Spatial Planning and Infrastructure Development
The Development Framework for New Universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga Provinces envisages that the campuses will provide quality learning and living environments for students who will benefit from advanced communications platforms and processes delivered by the latest information and communication technologies. Each new university will require access to contemporary facilities, instructional technologies, well-equipped libraries, knowledge resources and laboratories. It is anticipated that each university will become a "space of its place", with an identity that draws on the characteristics of the site on which it is constructed and pathways and portals for interaction with the community at large.
Town and Site Selection
On the 5th July 2012, President Jacob Zuma announced that the seat and main campus for the University in Mpumalanga will be at the Lowveld Agricultural College, a site overlooking the City of Nelspruit and close to the new Provincial Parliament. The seat and main campus for the university in the Northern Cape is the inner city of Kimberley, with potential to inject new life and purpose into this historic mining city.
The town and site selection was undertaken after 18 potential sites were assessed against the following criteria:
Level of Assessment
* The Inspirational and Iconic Role of the New Universities
* Accessibility and Connectivity
* Quality of Support Structures for Staff and Students
* Good Site Accessibility
* Iconic Setting
* Size and Nature of the Sites
* Cost and Time Efficiencies
Nelspruit was found to be the best placed city in Mpumalanga based on the assessment against the afore-mentioned criteria. Nelspruit is the capital of the Mpumalanga province and the administrative and business hub of the Lowveld region. It is the most integrated town with respect to provincial and national road and rail infrastructure. The city is situated at the junction of two major development corridors, namely the N4 and the R40. The town boasts an international airport and is close, and en route, to the Kruger National Park and the capital cities of neighbouring countries, Swaziland and Mozambique.
The existing Lowveld Agricultural College is situated on a 240-hectare property that is well established and well maintained. It is on a gentle south-facing slope and overlooks the Mpumalanga Legislature and the City as a whole. The property is directly linked to both the N4 and R40 movement corridors and is highly visible. It is also owned by the Government and has established bulk infrastructure, roads and services. This site offers quick operational and academic establishment. It is within close proximity to retail, commercial and recreational amenities.
In the sparsely populated and arid Northern Cape Province, Kimberley offers the best conditions and environment to support the establishment of a world-class university with a student population of five thousand. The city has the capacity to absorb many university activities into the existing town fabric and to offer livelihoods to students in terms of jobs and internships. The town offers a range of retail and community facilities and is an established tourism and recreation centre. Structurally, the town of Kimberley is well located within the national movement structure - on the Cape Town to Gauteng route - by both road and rail infrastructure. The town is also serviced by an airport that connects it to major cities in South Africa.
The University Seat is situated in a central location in the inner-city, enjoying high visibility as an institution of national importance with the ability to establish an iconic identity. The location of the academic and administrative component of the university is focused around the established central civic open space of the city, with maximum accessibility to the city and surrounds. The central location offers various existing amenities, which have the capacity to support the new university. Retail and recreational facilities are present within walking distance of the site. Established educational facilities including schools and training facilities are in the immediate vicinity. The development of a new Higher Education Institution on this site would strengthen the civic character of the city, make use of and enhance the existing infrastructure, make use of predominantly government owned land (national, provincial and municipal), activate urban regeneration within the city, and ultimately result in reduced delivery costs and time.
Spatial Planning Framework
Phase 1 of the spatial planning process has been completed with the completion of a series of verification studies that confirm the planning parameters including the geotechnical, environmental and town planning requirements. More than 16 specialists in Town Planning, Heritage, Environmental Impact, Engineering (civil, electrical, traffic, geotechnical) Landscape Architecture, Energy Efficiency and Cost Consulting have been involved in these studies. Their completion has confirmed the basic assumptions of the project feasibility studies while at the same time detailing various challenges.
The completion of the verification studies has paved the way for planning and approvals as well as the physical and operational development of the new universities. Preliminary design proposals have been developed to facilitate stakeholder consultation and to support planning and budget estimates. In the case of the university in Mpumalanga it is estimated that a total of 444,854 m2 would be required to accommodate 15,000 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) students, while a total of 188,969 m2 are needed to accommodate the 5,000 FTE students at the university in the Northern Cape. It is envisaged that the development of the universities will take place over a period of 10 years in order to enable the phasing in of all programmes.
The next phase of infrastructure and spatial planning involves the appointment of architects, engineers and professionals from other disciplines to undertake the detailed design and implementation of both universities.
The preliminary spatial frameworks for the two universities are set out below:
University in Kimberley, Northern Cape
University in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga