Pretoria – The historic Church Square is set for a major revamp and will receive its second make-over in three years.
Landscaping and renovation work officially began on Monday and is set to give the city centre a whole new and improved look.
The overhaul of the square is scheduled to take up to nine months and will include changing the look and feel of the popular park.
There will be new trees, with the lawns landscaped, and the street furniture will be redesigned.
City of Tshwane spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said the revamp would result in road closures and affect both motorists and pedestrians. It would also result in the removal of parking bays in some parts of the square.
“This redesigning will contribute to the cleanliness and rejuvenation of the city centre,” he said.
Mashigo said the city had put up road signage informing people of the roadworks under way.
“Entry into Church Square and the adjacent Bank/Mutual Street, as well as Parliament/Palace Street, will be closed off for all vehicular traffic as of mid-October,” he said.
Parking after the square's restoration would be limited to the staff of businesses within the area.
“Motorists are to note that all parking bays on Church Square will be removed and drivers are advised to make use of parking decks that are to remain around the square.
“A limited number of parking bays will remain on the peripheral area of the square on Mutual and Parliament streets,” he said.
The spokesperson said upon completion of the facelift, a section of Paul Kruger Street around the inner parameters of the square would no longer be accessible to motorists.
This road, he said, would be designated for use by A Re Yeng buses and emergency vehicles.
“This will be done to allow pedestrians the pleasure of using the broad walkways.”
Mashigo said the city wanted to thank the public in advance for co-operation during the construction period and hoped the reconstruction project would be completed within the set timelines.
The square is the centre of activity in the city, and hosts tourists, students and passers-by on the lawns and benches everyday.
The City of Tshwane holds its New Year’s bash at the venue.
Informal traders also ply their trade in the centre of the city, with florists, photographers, fruit and snack vendors camping there every day.
The availability of free wi-fi has become a major attraction to the site and people enjoy relaxing on the square so that can make use of it.
The square was established in 1855 and has undergone a lot of transformation since.
It's been a home for street performers, a testing ground for artists, a venue for impromptu sermons and a starting point for protests. It also turned into a popular meeting spot.
Once the city's market place, it used to draw people from all corners of Pretoria to shop.
The square's most prominent feature is the statue of the late Boer leader and president of the then-South African Republic, Paul Kruger, which sits at its centre and is surrounded by statues of four anonymous Boer soldiers.
The Old Capitol Theatre, Tudor Chambers, Ou Raadsaal (Old Council Chamber) and the Palace of Justice where the famous Rivonia trial took place are just some of the historical buildings situated around the square.
Recent additions to the square included the A Re Yeng bus service lanes in 2014.
Construction workers unearthed tram lines believed to be 105 years old during the initial phase of the beautification process in 2014.
Pretoria adopted trams as its main mode of public transport in 1910 and they lasted until the advent of more modern modes.
The construction of the new bus system forms part of the route that will connect the inner city with Rainbow Junction (Wonderboom Station) in the north of the capital, through Paul Kruger Street and Mansfield Avenue.
The first phase of the project consisted of Line 1 which will connect with Mabopane, Soshanguve and the inner city via the R80 and Es’kia Mphahlele Drive.
Phase 1 consists of 68km of dedicated median bus lanes, 52 stations, three depots and four terminuses.
Motorists are advised to use the following alternative routes:
From the north going south: turn left on to Boom Street, then turn right into Thabo Sehume Street and again right on to Pretorius Street to access Paul Kruger Street.
From the south going north: turn left from Paul Kruger Street into Pretorius Street, then right into Bosman Street and continue all the way to Boom Street. There, turn right into Boom Street, from where drivers can turn left into Paul Kruger Street to exit the inner city.