Chinese developer seeks public's help on SA's Modderfontein New City

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Artist Perspective of the new $7.4 billion city in Modderfontein, Johannesburg, to be developed by Hong Kong listed Shanghai Zendai. Artist Perspective of the new $7.4 billion city in Modderfontein, Johannesburg, to be developed by Hong Kong listed Shanghai Zendai.

Zendai Development South Africa (ZDSA), the local subsidiary of Hong Kong listed Shanghai Zendai, held a series of public information sessions during July 2015 on the master plan for the proposed development of Modderfontein New City.

Attendees were taken through the master plan and the guiding principles and included presentations on the details of the framework, project scope and a preliminary roll-out schedule. The sessions also offered the community from the surrounding areas an opportunity to meet Atkins Global and Arup representatives, the appointed technical consultants on the project. 

Atkins’ scope includes the strategic and operational framework for the development; including land-uses, sustainability practices, spatial planning, design and landscaping while Arup’s scope covers services and infrastructure master planning, and traffic impact assessments.  

The sessions, held at the historic Franz Hoenig Haus, were attended by amongst others delegates from the Gauteng Premier’s office, City of Johannesburg officials, local businesses owners and community members. 

Traffic congestion, environmental impact and the status of Modderfontein Reserve were some of the main concerns raised by community members during the sessions. Atkins Global and Arup took visitors through presentations in order to clarify informing principles which address these concerns, including Modderfontein Reserve’s status in the project.  It was explained that the Reserve forms a focal point in the development and is integral to the future of the development. 

The master plan will guide the development of the town and sets the principles on which the development is premised. The plan also allocates and identifies areas for protection (nature reserve, historic buildings), development precincts, and provides an indication of the proposed density of development and the types of land uses that are planned. 

The envisioned development’s footprint includes various functional zones within the precincts and seeks to encourage a mixed-use approach to achieve the ultimate work, live, play solution – which caters for residential, commercial, logistics and industry. 

As part of the master plan, Zendai together with Arup have assembled a comprehensive evidence base to assess the impact of development on demand for transport. Mitigation measures that would be required are already being put into place to lessen the localised impact and link into surrounding road networks; these include the completion of the 1.7 km Marlboro Drive extension, the completion of 2.4 km’s of roads which links to the London Road off/on ramp, the commencement of a section of the proposed K113 (which will ultimately link Edenvale to Marlboro Drive) and the current 2km extension to Centenary Road (under construction) to link through to Longmeadow Business Estate and ultimately the N3. 

Furthermore, several crossings under and over the Gautrain line have been designed for future links through the site. The traffic impact study also takes into account future public transport facilities - such as the Gautrain and related facilities, connecting to the proposed Municipal Bus Rapid Transport system and accommodating pedestrians and cyclists within development precincts. 

Detailed environmental impact assessments will be carried out for specific developments as planning applications are submitted. Current environmental planning seeks to proactively identify environmental assets and ascertain significant negative impacts on the environment and where possible mitigate these.  

This does not mean that potential environmental impacts will not be assessed in the future; detailed studies will be undertaken at the next stage of the planning process i.e. at the detailed planning application stage. To this end Zendai is forging working partnerships with City of Johannesburg’s Environmental Department, the Gauteng Department of Agriculture & Rural Development and various key departments within local and provincial authority offices. 

Zendai’s master plan seeks to spell out guiding principles for development and gauge its environmental, social and economic effects.  

A number of local business owners attended the public information sessions to look at the range of opportunities the project would afford once it gets underway – these included guest house owners, IT firms, and commercial & residential property agencies.  

Margot Orr, the project technical lead at Atkins said, “These sessions have encouraged a dialogue with the community whose suggestions and concerns are the bedrock of the development framework.”

Market conditions will ultimately determine the release of land and related development pace. The town will be developed as a vast system of interconnected parks and open spaces, and rapid rail transport in the shape of Gautrain around which the thriving city will grow. 

“Public comments will be used to refine the master plan.” 

"This project epitomises a modern, transit-oriented, mixed use, ecologically sound environment that we believe will become a focal point of community activity and pride for the city and region,” Orr concludes. 

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