More homes are needed as urban populations boom in cities

The world’s population is urbanising at a rapid rate, with an estimated four billion people – 54 percent of the overall population – living in cities at present.

This 23 percent more than a decade ago, and the percentage is expected to reach a staggering 66 percent globally by 2050.

The world’s fastest growing cities are taking centre stage in today’s innovation economy, and when it comes to property, supply in most of these cities cannot keep up with demand, says John Snow, head of commercial at Knight Frank Global.

“Technology and creativity are integral to these growing economic hubs, but more than ever, the 2017 Global Cities Report by Knight Frank shows that the current urban economy is becoming increasingly people-centric.

“Whether a city is driven by finance, aerospace, commodities, defence, or manufacturing, the most important asset is a large pool of educated and creative workers. Consequently, real estate is increasingly a business that seeks to build an environment that attracts and retains such people,” says Snow.

Although Cape Town is not one of the 34 global cities surveyed in the latest report, it does share much of the required ethos that Knight Frank Global lists as being imperative to successful city growth, namely inclusivity, creativity, innovation, and people-centricity. Also, much of Cape Town offers extreme diversity, something that is becoming a clear and obvious trend in urbanisation.

“The trend in urbanisation runs counter to many real estate planning principles. Real estate likes the order and logic of zones – CBD, shopping district, leisure circuit, theatre land, or cultural quarter, for example,” says Stephen Springham, head of retail research at Knight Frank Global.

“However, true urbanisation recognises none of these artificially engineered boundaries and the utopia of urbanisation is a melange of real estate facilities that goes far beyond mixed-use as we know it. A place left to the natural process of urbanisation would combine residential, office, retail and leisure in a non-uniform environment. The order we have become accustomed to will not be replaced by chaos – rather, a sense of vitality and diversity which are pre-requisites for every successful location and indeed, a fundamental to retailing in particular.”

This is apparent when you drive through Regent Road in Sea Point and pass an internet café next to an upmarket restaurant, alongside an entrance to an apartment block, flanked by an estate agency and a yoga studio.

“Cape Town, especially the Atlantic seaboard and CBD, is bustling and diverse. It is the secret behind its charm and appeal for most people wanting to buy or rent here,” says Richard Hardie, manager of Knight Frank Residential South Africa’s Sea Point branch.

“There will always be a place or a community that people from all walks of life feel at home in – it does not cater only to one demographic.”

He believes the secret to the successful city of the future is clear: Cater for a wide and diverse audience honestly, innovatively and transparently. Ensure that creativity and people-centricity are always at the fore when developing or planning, and most of all keep regular and open communication between the city and its residents, as well as among the residents.

“The denser our urban areas become, the more these factors will make a difference and ensure a happy, and therefore buoyant urban fabric,” says Hardie.

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