Riverfields – light touch, big impacts

  • 04 September 2015

Riverfields is all about leaving a lasting legacy across the three pillars of sustainability – people, planet and profits. It is a planned community that employs good urban design and a “new urbanism” philosophy to bring the community into the 21st century.

Riverfields is all about leaving a lasting legacy across the three pillars of sustainability. Image courtesy of Paul Saad

Related to this quest is a passion for the area’s strong environmental features – in particular the attractive wetlands, ridges and unique endemic species – and an ethos that says human development can be in harmony with nature.

Yet Riverfields is also committed to economic growth – locally to sustain and create job opportunities; regionally to give communities such as Tembisa new economic opportunities; and provincially to stimulate new nodal growth in an important economic corridor that has been prioritised by both the City of Ekurhuleni and the provincial government.

In support of the first, Riverfields appointed well-respected urban design firm GAPP Architects & Urban Designers to oversee urban design, while Seaton Thomson & Associates, Urban Reflection and NuLeaf Planning & Environmental are ensuring that developments are environmentally sound and sustainable.

But what about the economic impact? To independently measure economic impacts, the Riverfields Development Company appointed real estate market researcher Demacon Market Studies to conduct the necessary analysis and quantify the likely contributions of Riverfields to future economic growth.

According to Hein du Toit from Demacon, Riverfields will deliver 2.5-million square metres of bulk floor area. This, he says, will most likely translate into a “total investment in construction costs of approximately R29.4-billion, creating an additional R67.7-billion in new business sales, R23.9-billion in additional GGP, as well as additional 158 800 one-off employment opportunities. The total impact includes direct, indirect as well as induced effects.”

In the operation phase, he believes “that the estimated total annual operational expenditure will be approximately R38.4-billion … creating an additional R94.4-billion in new business sales, R46.8-billion in additional GGP, as well as 166 280 sustained employment opportunities”.

Du Toit says, “From these figures it is evident that the proposed Riverfields Phase 1 development will have a significant impact on the economy of the Ekurhuleni Metro, as well as the local economies of the surrounding areas, in particular Tembisa and Kempton Park.”

For Lardus Erasmus from the Riverfields Development Company, the figures confirm that “Riverfields will be a powerful stimulus in the local area, unlocking talent development, sustainable job creation, regeneration of the whole area, as well as skills development and capacity building of the local labour force”. Furthermore, he believes that Riverfields will unlock local resources, attract higher skills levels to Ekurhuleni, and strengthen economic linkages while optimising land-use potential.

“In this regard, we believe that Riverfields will not only contribute to the municipal and district economy but will align the proposed development with the objectives of the National Development Plan and the Spatial Development Framework.”