Ballito Urban Improvement Precinct Gets In Principle Agreement.
Ballito property owners in partnership with the Kwadukuza Municipality have agreed in principle to the establishment of an Urban Improvement Precinct (UIP) in Ballito with the aim of improving service levels to public areas, stimulating economic activity and securing property investments.
This important agreement follows a long process of collaboration and debate into the feasibility of a UIP in Ballito, which has resulted in the municipality adopting a resolution to research and adopt UIP policy by December 2012, allowing for the official establishment of a UIP by July 2013.
But what is a UIP and what does it mean for Ballito?
The UIP mechanism is based on the Municipal Property Rates Act of 2004, which makes provision for the establishment of what is technically termed a Special Rating Area (SRA). The SRA is a defined geographic area within which the majority of commercial property owners agree to pay for certain services supplementary to those supplied by the municipality.
The UIP partnership mechanism was initially developed in Canada and has now spread far and wide, with international and local statistics reflecting that the UIP approach, in partnership with the municipality, results in business activity and property investment out-performing those in areas outside of managed areas.
The SRA is referred to by variety of descriptive names, an Urban Improvement Precinct is one term, with City Improvement Districts (CID), Business Improvement Districts (BID) or Management Districts (MD) some of the other management vehicles used both locally and abroad. South Africa’s biggest UIP success is the Cape Town City CID, where this year alone property owners will contribute nearly R40million to supplementing municipal services in Cape Town’s city centre.
In Kwa-Zulu Natal, one of the most successful examples of a UIP is in uMhlanga, where there has been a marked and visible improvement in general service levels to public areas, with the area now permanently clean, green and well maintained - a pleasure to visit. Of late there has been a surge in investor confidence with substantial investment of over R2 billion secured for further development, based largely on the UIP’s track record of ensuring high service standards to public areas.
This significant change in uMhlanga is the result of a partnership between uMhlanga property owners and the municipality and is the base off which Trenley Tilbrook, CEO of the iLembe Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (ICCIT) opened exploratory discussions about establishing a UIP in Ballito with Brian Wright, the driver behind the establishment and management of the Umhlanga UIPs. And so followed an extensive process of pulling together the key commercial property owners in Ballito, which resulted in a mandate from them and ICCIT members to allow Tilbrook and Wright to open initial discussions with the municipality in September 2011.
What followed was a process of building mutual understanding around the challenges and needs of both Ballito and the municipality. The municipality responded positively by establishing a UIP Task Team to assess the UIP (SRA) legislation and suitability for the KDM with the intention of Ballito serving as the pilot project for the municipality as a whole. On the basis of the favourable UIP Task Team report , which was supported by two presentations to two full council meetings on the Umhlanga UIP case study, the municipality has now adopted a resolution to research and adopt UIP (SRA)policy by December 2012.
Because the UIP mechanism is best suited to economic, tourism and mixed use nodes, there are two proposed precincts, which will be operationally managed as one integrated area under the Ballito UIP structure. These are the commercial node comprising the business park and surrounding commercial properties and the promenade node comprising all properties bordering the promenade and the commercial node on the southern end of the promenade.
Legalities aside, the UIP success will be largely determined by goodwill of both the UIP and municipality to find long-term solutions to securing the future of Ballito’s economic hub and the tourist attraction of the promenade, which is of critical importance for the municipality, property owners, businesses and stakeholders.
While the success of the uMhlanga UIP took five years to realise, Ballito will take less time, but expectations must be tempered as there are many challenges in servicing public space, and the UIP structure must not be seen as a cure-all for all of these. It is however the beginning of the turning of the tide on a degrading Ballito and the charting of a new path to economic success and a better KDM for all.
To get a taste of out what's in store for Ballito, take a look at the UIP uMhlanga website