Shop owners, tenants, residents and other stakeholders have come together to discuss an initiative that will breathe new life into the Newlands shopping centre. Over 70 people attended a public consultation held at Deloitte and Touches’ offices last month.
Some feel that the Newlands Bypass has diverted much of the business away from the shopping centre. Now the plan, alongside other future proposed developments for the area, is to totally close the centre off to through traffic, pedestrianising it into a destination for shopping, events and pavement culture.
“The project is in line with the global concept of greening cities. Across the world similar initiatives have boosted localised economies and strengthened the community fabric. It’s about improved air quality, citizen mobility and sustainable infrastructure as well as using urban art and gardening to take ownership of public spaces,” enthuses Laura Dreyer, who, along with Louise Bragge, kick started the project. The turn out at the meeting is testament to the hard work the pair have done to engage many stakeholders in the area.
The shopping centre already has the attention of the Newlands Committee which, set up three years ago, has carried out clean-ups at the centre and holds regular meetings. They feel that the facelift initiative builds on earlier attempts to revitalize the centre and fully support it as being very much in line with their goal to get people to come back to Newlands.
Dreyer and Bragge say that the facelift is not about high capital investment. Rather, they say, “a truly green facelift is one that takes the existing functional infrastructure and transforms it through community co-creation. This includes the collaborative work of local artists, producers, businesses, youth, volunteers, residents and their families and friends.”
Town planner Martin Gandiwe, who attended the meeting, spoke enthusiastically about Council support for the initiative. “The Council fully supports this project and looks forward to being part of the next step forward,” he said.
The issue of parking is high on the list of challenges raised at the stakeholder meeting last month. However, Jackie Fallon at Deloittes, who’s on the Newlands Committee, says that it’s an issue that already plagues the existing set up.
“At the moment, it is so congested with the current parking system. The sanitary lanes are almost impossible. Everyone parks illegally,” she explained. She believes that the new project could solve the existing problems.
Other issues raised were the lack of family oriented activities in the centre as well as a need for a more exciting shopping experience.
Rather than adopt a ‘let’s see’ attitude, Fallon is keen for stakeholders to jump in and get the initiative moving.
Dreyer agrees. “There has been a really strong support. That is why this is going to work, because there has been such a strong community vibe on a heartfelt level. We are so excited to see this realised. It’s a way of brightening our lives and our environment.”
To support the project, sign the ‘We Support this Initiative’ sheet at Rose’s Courtyard Café in Mon Repos or Cakelink. If you have resources to offer, then fill in one of the ‘suggestions and feedback’ sheets. Email [email protected] for more information.