Growth and upliftment on the cards for the Knysna area

The Knysna area is experiencing a development boom. From residential development to business and infrastructure, it has the potential to transform and uplift the town, improving infrastructure and creating more economic opportunities.

Municipal Manager Mr Ombali Sebola said that in addition to various residential developments in the greater Knysna area, there are also a number of retail developments taking place. “The Main Road in Knysna is earmarked for a number of developments, and a tender was also awarded for the development of the waterfront area at the end of Union Street.”

Another exciting addition is the Neighbourhood Development Partnership Investment Plan that was recently submitted to Council. Sebola said once the investment plan is approved by Council, it will be submitted to National Treasury for further capital grant funding allocation.

“The plan focuses on four nodes linking the CBD with the Northern Areas Precinct from Concordia to Heidevallei. This includes a central transport hub in town, around the existing taxi rank, the Masifunde node along Concordia Street, the Nekkies Node at the N2 / Uniondale Road junction, and the Heidevallei Precinct. The plan’s vision is to create streets that work as public transport corridors that protect pedestrians, but are also part of the focal point within the community. Public spaces will include recreation and entertainment while accommodating transportation and local economic hubs.”

The plan’s focus is to create multi-purpose public spaces with trading opportunities, access to essential services, retail, and landscaped open areas. “What is particularly exciting is the focus on creating space for flexible small-scale enterprises along activity corridors, e.g. semi-formal retail options and small-scale retail offerings with water and electricity provision,” said Sebola.

The CBD Transport Hub node will be developed around the existing Taxi rank area. “The plan’s vision for this area is to create a space for residents, especially pedestrians and commuters, which is safe, user-friendly and easy to move around in. The proposed plan includes spacious tree-lined areas and generous pedestrian access routes. Other facilities include offices with ablutions, a “storage” wall, Wi-Fi hub, upgraded trade facilities and strategically placed greenery. “

Sebola said that they anticipate that Masifunde and the Kunjani Mall, which opens later this month, will become the “CBD” for the Northern Areas. “The development of the Masifunde node will offer community and health services, recreation, and commercial opportunities. The aim is to create a diverse area offering choice and variety in an attractive environment – clustered, landscaped community centres that are appealing and vibrant places to meet friends, play, access services and pick up groceries after work. It will also include improved pedestrian facilities and a formal taxi rank with ablutions, mixed-use buildings, e.g. residential, work, and urban spaces to create opportunities for commercial and retail. Semi-formal trading spaces with access to water and electricity points for e.g. container shops will also be provided.”

The Nekkies Node, also called Sanlam Mall, is positioned along the N2 at the entrance of Knysna and at the intersection to Uniondale. The area is the main entrance to the Northern areas from the east.

Sebola said that plans from SANRAL to introduce a traffic calming circle and pedestrian facilities are in an advanced stage. “The proposed subdivision of land and formalisation of land ownership by Knysna Municipality (which requires relocation of informal structures) will expand the area available for the Nekkies Node and make space for expansion as well as improvement of access.”

He continued to say that the node is in a very visible and accessible location with views over Knysna and the lagoon. “It can be expanded to serve a larger role as a civic node for the area, as well as providing a service to passing travellers. In its current format, the node already has a vibrant economy. This can be expanded upon to create more employment and economic opportunities.”

The Heidevallei Node is positioned around the future access point for the Heidevallei Inclusionary Housing Area along the N2. It is a 99-ha greenfields development on municipal-owned land and a public-private integrated mixed-use housing development was approved for the area. It is undeveloped at the moment with only a few structures and an informal soccer field. The Heidevallei node development will be instrumental in the creation of access to the proposed new inclusionary housing development.

Sebola said they are excited about the proposed “Knysna Central Park” in the area. “It will be the “Green Node” of the plan, focusing on sustainability and resilience. The vision for the area is to become the “Knysna Central Park” as a catalyst for rehabilitation and environmental awareness.”

It was also suggested that the area become the house of a centralised Fire and Disaster Risk Management complex by relocating all related services to this accessible central location. “The area provides easy access to main routes, will integrate the various services, and release land for development where disaster response services are currently located. There is also space for future expansion, if needed.”

Other suggestions for the area are a sports field, hiking routes, and an Adventure Park. The focus of the remainder of the node will be on environmental rehabilitation and enhancing the existing natural surroundings. Equally the node will serve as an entry point to the proposed Knysna Central Park. As such the commercial opportunities are confined to a small footprint of 400m2 and should focus on adventure and nature-based tourism products and low-impact recreational activities, e.g. indigenous nursery, educational gardens, coffee shop, etc.

Sebola concluded by saying that the investment in Knysna is a show of confidence in the viability of the area. “Infrastructure assessments were done as part of the plan, and any upgrades needed for the expansions are included in the plan. This plan can transform key areas in our area. Residents will have access to services closer to home, creating spaces where families can prosper with more business opportunities, and easy access to transport and other services.”