Concept and Benefits
In any environment, urban decay threatens property values and business prosperity, negatively impacts on investor confidence and quality of life for the users of that area. Indicators of such decay include:
- Crime / grime / social dysfunction
- Inadequate services to public areas
- The degrading of the built and natural environment
- Poorly maintained infrastructure
- Property owner apathy towards public areas surrounding their properties
When combined, and often one indicator leads quickly to another, the rate of decay is swift, with a turnaround becoming a slow and costly process.
Urban decay and social dysfunction, particularly crime, are inextricably linked. For this reason improved safety cannot be viewed in isolation, but rather as an outcome of a holistically managed urban environment that is: improved social cohesion, cleaning, greening, maintenance, social responsibility, communication and importantly safety and security.
It is important to note that there is no correlation between the rand value of municipal rates paid and service levels delivered to particular area. In other words, service levels are governed by municipal policy, which provides for a set service level throughout the municipality. This means that despite some areas contributing more to the rates base, they will not receive a greater level of service.
For this reason, the UIPs and Associated Areas have been established to fill the gap in service delivery to public areas thus ensuring the expected level of safety and quality of public areas in uMhlanga Rocks.
International and South African statistics reflect that the UIP approach to the management of public areas, in partnership with the municipality, results is in property values and business vitality out-performing those areas outside of managed areas.
Urban Improvement Precinct is one term used for the internationally based concept of managed public spaces. City Improvement Districts, Business Improvement Districts or Management Districts are some of the other management vehicles used both locally and abroad.
The uMhlanga UIP is Kwa-Zulu Natal’s prime example and ranks among others such as www.capetownpartnership.co.za and www.ida-downtown.org
Benefits of a UIP
A UIP is a sustainable funding mechanism for urban management and improvement of public areas, with the financial responsibility equitably shared by precinct members.
With UIP (SRA) regulation governed by the Municipal Property Rates Act of 2004, there are no ‘free-loaders’ as all property owners within the UIP boundaries are compelled by the law to contribute. Being an independent and privately funded entity, means the UIP is directly answerable to its property owners, ensuring responsive service delivery. The UIPs are recognised by the municipality as an official ‘service provider’ to public areas, this status provides significant leverage in optimising municipal service delivery.
Furthermore the UIP actively participates in the Municipal Planning Forum to ensure that property owners’ interests are brought to the fore at the planning phase of public area infrastructure. Importantly, the UIP experience gained from servicing public areas is fed-back into design phase of upgrades with the aim of ensuring functionality and aesthetic design which is cost effective to service and maintain.
As a municipal-recognised legal entity through which issues of common interest and concerns can be addressed, the UIP is able to leverage costs and service levels with private sector service providers such as security, landscaping etc.