Philippi’s Sustainable Neighbourhood Development

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Owned by ‘The Business Place Philippi’ – a Section 21 Company – and with the property surrounded by Browns Farm, Crossroads and Nyanga, the Philippi Neighborhood Development is set to become a leading community-based sustainable neighbourhood project that demonstrates in practice all the basic elements of sustainable urban development.

The drivers of the project are two companies and two NGOs, namely Investec Bank, British American Tobacco, Sustainability Institute (in partnership with Stellenbosch University) and Abalimi.

The project will all take place on a historic 12 hectare tract of land in Philippi, known locally as the Old Cement Factory. As a “Sustainable Neighbourhood”, it will comprise 350 residential units, a training and demonstration farm, an entrepreneurial development centre, a commercial zone and a manufacturing zone. Built into the design are renewable energy supplies from wind and solar power, solar heating on all the roofs, and a water and sewage recycling plant. Envisaged as a mixed-income development, a range of housing options will be offered, from housing subsidy units through to middle income larger homes with gardens.

The total capital investment for the completed project will be R138 million broken down as follows: sustainable infrastructure (energy, water, waste, roads, etc) – R28 million; housing – R78 million; land price – R12 million; urban farm – R4 million, with the remainder of the proposed investment available for various social and commercial facilities.

Assets already on the site include various relics of the past, including the grand old cement factory building, an ampitheatre for concerts and cultural events, the now-functional entrepreneurial development centre and a set of training halls.

It will demonstrate in practice that residential spaces need to be embedded in local economies driven by entrepreneurship, and, that this can be done in ways which sustain rather than degrade or inefficiently over-consume natural resources. Some of the elements of the development will include:

·         350 units for housing, comprising various accomodation types that can potentially satisfy a range of housing needs, not just the needs of low-income households;

·         A 50 unit rental stock of flats and small commercial units.

·         Upgrading of the existing 180,000m³ old steel structure for various commercial, sporting and community purposes.

·         A 500m long pedestrian boulevard, bounded by shops and bazaars of various descriptions, with live-above, work-below accommodation.

·         A 5-ha intensive urban agriculture organic demonstration and training farm

·         A “Farmer-to-Fork”  market, bringing the organic farmer and the consumer together in one place.

·         Space for value-add manufacturing businesses, working alongside the primary production role of the Farm.

·         An Arts and Crafts Village, where products are manufactured and sold on site.

·         An Early Childhood Development Centre.

·         A recycling operation, collecting household waste not only from the proposed houses, but also from the surrounding communities.

·         A Utility Company to service the needs of the residents.

·         A tourism hub where visitors can experience local fare and crafts in a secure environment, either as a stop-over for their “township tours” or as a dedicated visit to the site.

·         A “Great Ideas” College, feeding in to the Entrepreneurial Information Centre.

Key development themes written into the Strategic Development framework document include:

  • Entrepreneurship, equity and fair trade at all levels (global, regional and local)
  • Satisfying  fundamental human needs and reduction in inequalities
  • Valuing authentic cultural diversity, community solidarity, child-centred activities and citizen participation
  • Transition to renewable energy alternatives and energy efficiency
  • Zero waste via re-use of all waste outputs as productive inputs
  • Sustainable transport, with a major focus on public transport
  • Sustainable construction materials and building methods
  • Local and sustainable food
  • Responsible water use and re-use of treated sewerage
  • Enhancing biodiversity and the preservation of natural habitats
  • Health, well-being and soulfulness