Ricochet News

Public invited to engage on latest Baakens Valley development

Jun 24, 2019
Public invited to engage on latest Baakens Valley development

Port Elizabeth - The Mandela Bay Development Agency invites interested stakeholders, residents and the media to a public meeting to discuss proposals and ideas for the remaining structure of the old St Peters Church in what was then South End before forced removals.

This property lies above St Mary’s cemetery across the road from the Tramway’s building.

The ruins of what was St Peter’s Church presents Nelson Mandela Bay with an opportunity to grow its heritage tourism product offering as a must see, visit and experience site as well as an economic opportunity for small to medium tourism businesses.

The public is invited to attend this engagement to discuss and reimagine the development of what used to be the beacon of the South End community.

The public meeting will take place on the 26th of June from 09h00 – 15h00 at the Tramways Building, parking is available under the freeway.

Since 2014 when the Baakens Valley masterplan was approved, a wide range of MBDA developments have emerged, changing the face of the valley and bringing much needed economic and cultural activity in the precinct. Some of the projects include:

  • the revamp of Flemming Street behind City Hall, a link to Vuyisile Mini square
  • the redevelopment of the Tramways Building into a catalytic events space,
  • the current construction of the unique composites materials Baakens Pedestrian Bridge,
  • the rezoning process of various land parcels and environmental authorization
  • the environmental upgrade and stabilization of the land occupied by St Peter’s Church

Fleming Street environmental upgrade

Fleming Street links Vuyisile Mini Square a symbolic space for community mobilization and gatherings to the Baakens Valley through a newly revamped walkway. The project is designed to reverse the trend of urban decay by bringing people and business back into the inner city by leveraging on existing assets such as the Tramways building.

This project will be fully realized once the pedestrian bridge is complete. The long-term plan is for a complete upgrade of Vuyisile Mini Square, making it a people’s meeting place.

The Tramways building

The Tramways building was established in 1878, it was used for multiple business operations before closing in the 1990s. It was left unused and decrepit. In 2015, the MBDA completed the restoration of the once-decayed former tram and bus terminus into a development featuring a mixture of tourism, leisure, entertainment, and office spaces.

The MBDA is creating a place to “live, work and play” where those who work in the inner city can enjoy the festivities (tramways and others) at the valley, stay in the valley.

Baakens Pedestrian Bridge

The MBDA is currently constructing South Africa’s first composite material public pedestrian bridge over the Baakens river to link the inner-city to the Baakens Valley. The decision to use composite materials is both strategic and financially pragmatic.

Composites due to their environmental, strength and versatile characteristics will lead to less maintenance costs down the line but most importantly this partnership with the Composites cluster will give impetus to more research and development of the sector, strengthening Nelson Mandela Bay as the manufacturing hub of South Africa.

The construction of this unique bridge has also led to 8 entry level SMMEs being awarded civil, paving, retaining walls and wheelchair ramp contracts worth over R2,5m.

South End mixed-use project

The community of South End were victims of forced removals under the Apartheid regime with approximately 8742 people, of all races being relocated to other areas of the city.

The South End Mixed Use project falls within the Baakens Valley Precinct, and the intention of this project is to make suitably selected municipality-owned land available for mixed-use development.

The aim of this development is to promote sustainable living, celebrate South End’s heritage and to provide open space opportunities, with special focus on low rise, high-density housing together with recreational and economic spaces.

St Peters Church

The St Peters Anglican Church was part of the landmarks affected by the forced removals. By 1972, the empty building was vandalised. The MBDA has since purchased the land and has carried out environmental improvements around the church including a timber walkway that provides visibility of the ruins of the church and a beautiful view of the ocean.

MBDA Chief Executive Officer, Ashraf Adam said, “The forced removal of this community to disparate areas in the Northern East of the City destroyed the very fabric of the city and the innumerable lives in the process. The St Peters Church ruins symbolises a valuable history of the community of South End, a place where people from every walk of like congregated, worshiped together and living in peace.

"This and other considerations is why the MBDA wishes to engage with the public on opportunities for creating something special, a place of memory and a demonstration of what a post-Apartheid City represents”.

“It is crucial for the public to attend the stakeholder engagement in order to contribute to the future of this iconic landmark for future generations to know the history and dream of a different future,” concluded Adam.

The engagement is open, members of the public wanting more details can contact the MBDA Project Manager responsible, Oyama Vanto on Cell 060 546 8777 or 041 811 200 or send an email to create@mbda.co.za

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