In 2016, the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation and UrbanWorks teamed up to conduct an analysis of an experimental land use management intervention by the City of Windhoek in Namibia to stimulate small business activities. Our research enquiry centred on Eveline Street in Goreangab Township, a north-western extension of Katutura established in 1991.
Eveline Street was one of nine township high streets rezoned to stimulate business activities. The land use rezoning from residential to commercial status enabled micro-enterprises to formalise and thus obtain operating licences. Our research, conducted eight years after the introduction of the high street business corridor intervention, aimed to measure change in the business environment. We discovered the change was profound.
The number of businesses within the street had increased in scale and diversified in scope, many of the property owners had made substantial investments to their buildings, transforming the original houses into multi-purpose buildings, and the public space of the street accommodating a range of users in a manner which suggested an improved urban outcome.
In the latest edition of ArchitectureSA, Jesse Harber of the Gauteng City-Region Observatory provides an independent interpretation of the Eveline Street case, concluding that: ‘the example of Eveline Street shows the transformation of a street with both spatial and economic benefits at relatively little cost to the municipality. Cities that wish to break historical path dependencies need to be cognisant of streets and street life and see them as central to the project of spatial transformation and transit-oriented development’.