Years after the Athlone cooling towers were demolished, the City of Cape Town is still uncertain when the site will be developed.
Cape Town – Seven years after the Athlone cooling towers were demolished to make way for a new mixed use development, the City of Cape Town is still no closer to knowing when the site will be developed.

Among the planned developments are affordable housing, a new train station and trunk MyCiTi routes, and commercial, retail and light industrial use development.

But since the towers were demolished in August 2010, the city is still some way away from drawing up plans.

Mayco member for the Transport and Urban Development Authority, Brett Herron said the disused Athlone Power Station is one of five city-owned sites earmarked for mixed-use transit-oriented development (TOD) projects.

The other four sites are along the Foreshore, Philippi, Bellville and Paardevlei in the Somerset West-Strand area.

“Our TOD strategy, adopted last year, seeks to address the apartheid spatial form by building integrated communities where people can live, work and play at or near public transport hubs and corridors. Including affordable housing in this development will be key and in keeping with our new spatial planning strategy,” said Herron.

Existing key city infrastructure at the Athlone site, which includes an electricity facility, the Athlone Regional Waste Transfer Station, a sewerage pumping station and associated reticulation will continue to operate, he said.

Based on an initial study which showed that the site is suitable for mixed-use urban area development, including residential, commercial, retail and light industrial land uses, the city has appointed two teams of consultants to work on technical planning and development strategy.

“This work is still under way; however, the market study and the technical baseline analysis has confirmed the recommendation of a mixed-use development on the principles of TOD, taking advantage of the potential of a new railway station on the site."

“The technical planning team is currently working on the development framework for the site. This will provide an outline of the land use breakdown for the proposed development,” said Herron.

There was no cost estimate at this stage as it was too early to gauge, Herron said.

He said it was too soon to predict the “outcomes of this work”, as it would be subject to “public engagement required for both the statutory land use and environmental processes”.

“This will provide the basis for the statutory approvals (land use, environmental and heritage) which will be required before development can take place on the site. Further to the planning work, the site must still be physically decommissioned before much of the construction can take place. Definite time frames will be available at a later stage...”

Athlone has been identified as a priority area where the city will invest in projects that will lead to more private development, primarily through transport infrastructure, Herron said.

“As detailed in the City’s Transit-Oriented Development Strategic Framework and in the Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN), a MyCiTi trunk or red road will only be developed where there are densities and intensities of development that support the investment.”

Through the IPTN Plan, the City has identified three future MyCiTi trunk routes, on red bus lanes.

Route T14 trunk route will operate along Turfhall, Pooke Road to Klipfontein Road and beyond to east Athlone, while the T15 trunk route will operate along Jan Smuts Drive and pass through Athlone on a north to south axis.

A D12 distributor route will operate along Klipfontein Road on a east to west axis, he said.

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Cape Argus