South Africa’s new Lanseria mega smart city plan and what it will look like

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in his 2021 state of the nation address that the Lanseria Smart City, the first new city to be built in a democratic South Africa, is now a reality in the making.

Plans for the Lanseria Smart City – first known as Cradle City – started in 2007 with the idea of creating South Africa’s first city built around an airport.

For many years the project was low-key, but it started to make headlines after it was mentioned in Ramaphosa’s 2020 state of the nation address and Premier David Makhura’s Gauteng state of the province address.

Further details about the project were made public, which included that Crosspoint, in cooperation with the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements, will implement the Lanseria Airport City Mega Project over a ten-year period.

Crosspoint has also partnered with the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to develop a 90-hectare mixed-use commercial precinct – the Lanseria Business District – as part of the project.

Last year a lot of progress was made on the Lanseria Smart City plans and a draft masterplan for the Greater Lanseria Growth Node was released in November 2020 for public comment.

The plan highlighted that the new smart city is a joint initiative of the Presidency, the Office of the Gauteng Premier, the City of Tshwane, the City of Johannesburg, and Mogale City.

The aim is to create the first post-apartheid city in South Africa based on best practice in urban sustainability and the principles underpinning the smart city.

“It is to be inclusive of the broadly defined South African socio-economic spectrum and must stimulate a vibrant, mixed urban economy,” the masterplan states.

The city would be built surrounding Lanseria International Airport, north of Johannesburg, in a project which would take around 25 years to complete.

Sitting in the centre of the development, the airport will be the main economic driver for the city’s growth.

Strong residential growth in the surrounding areas is expected which would be supported by improvements to existing roads in the area.

The map below shows how the new Lanseria Smart City will fit into the greater area surrounding the development.

From the outset, the plan was to build a smart city which was innovative, sustainable, and green. It was designed to “interface with nature” to ensure minimal environmental impact.

The Lanseria Smart City will feature rainwater harvesting and solar energy to limit its carbon footprint.

The city aims to move urban sustainability beyond existing paradigms of planning, engineering, and urbanization to increasingly appropriate levels of sustainability and innovation.

As technology in the sustainability field matures, it is the intention to move the project beyond ‘leading-edge’ approaches into what now may be regarded somewhat as ‘bleeding edge’.

There is a strong focus on limiting the need to commute using cars. Any commuting should, by default, be by non-motorised means like walking or cycling or, where necessary, by public transport.

In planning terms, this means the new city needs to be walkable. People must be able to walk to work, shopping malls, or schools, within between 5 minutes (400m) and 10 minutes (800m).

The current plan is to make the lateral extent of an activity zone within this new city roughly 1600m – a 10-minute walk in any direction from its epicentre.

If a service is not available within one activity zone, it should be possible to use safe, reliable, and affordable public transport to access this service further afield.

The focus is, however, not only the distance between services and buildings.

The building will be designed to optimise vertical integration, with retail at ground level, a few office levels above this, and residential apartments, penthouses and hotels above these in turn.

With up-to-date infrastructure for cell phones, Wi-Fi, information networks and high-speed broadband connectivity, the city will be built on “smart” technology and systems in a way that is helpful to all residents, companies, businesses, and visitors.

To further increase the appeal of the city, there are plans to expand the Lanseria International Airport.

The airport currently accommodates 3.5 million passengers per annum, with a vision to accommodate 18 to 20 million passengers in future.

To support this expansion, the airport will have to accommodate business jets and Boeing 737s, which requires a longer runway.

The Lanseria international Airport is exploring different options of expansion, which could include the extension of the existing runway from 3km to 4.5km or potentially adding an additional runway.

To accommodate the increased traffic to and from the Lanseria International Airport, existing roads will have to be upgraded and new roads will have to be built.

Additional interchanges, subways, bridges, and service lanes are planned to enhance the current road system around the airport.

A powerful shaft of space through the core of the new smart city will be introduced to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians.

This will also become the seam that connects biodiversity green linkage, which will extend beyond the urban core into the neighbouring developments.

A series of non-motorised primary and secondary routes will form a tartan grid between the road networks.

The Lanseria Business Gateway will be located on 130 hectares of prime real estate between Lanseria Airport and the upmarket Blair Atholl Golf Estate.

It will be a 24-hour smart city zone that will offer retail, conference, and business facilities. It will also host the Lanseria luxury hotel.

To make the Lanseria Smart City safe for residents and workers, the streets, sidewalks, marketplaces, and parks will be well policed and well-lit at night.

The public areas of the city are aimed at street-life and social interaction and the design of the buildings facing onto these areas will encourage this.

Where it is possible, there is also the idea of making opportunities for small-scale market gardening available in an organised way so that urban agriculture can be included as part of the Smart City’s economic activity.

The idea is that the Lanseria Smart City will have accommodation for many socio-economic and cultural groups living in and around a higher density, mixed-use city.

As part of this accommodation, the Northern side of the Lanseria Smart City will include a sustainable residential area with river-frontage for high-end residential units.

Now read: South Africa’s new mega smart city – Here is what it will look like

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South Africa’s new Lanseria mega smart city plan and what it will look like