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Major facelift set for Ascot race course, Makokoba

by Staff reporter
23 Jan 2022 at 08:01hrs | Views
BULAWAYO's Ascot Race Course is set for a major facelift after the local authority identified it as "lost space" with a need to come up with viable development structures that will add into the city's urban renewal strategies.

Once a famous horse racing course- Ascot Race Course- which was built in the 1890s, was closed in 2001 as the sport declined in popularity in the region. Over the years the race course has turned into a white elephant, with the tracks being characterized by overgrown grass and the stands now also dilapidated.

The local authority is, however, mooting plans that will see it being turned into an attractive state of the art mixed use node, which will be a mixture of leisure and commercial activities. This was revealed by the local authority's chairperson of the finance and development standing committee, Councillor Tawanda Ruzive in a presentation to the

Ministry of Local Government and Public Works on the upcoming capital projects being targeted by the local authority.

He said it was unfortunate that viability problems had led to the abandonment of horse racing activities and this led to deteriorating conditions of the building.

"Ascot Race Course is zoned residential and ancillary in terms of local plan number five which covers the area. It is located in an upmarket area and in the vicinity of upmarket suburbs like, Woodlands, Suburbs and Kumalo.

The site measures 59,8 hectares in extent. Former Ascot Race Course area resembles ‘lost space' (abandoned race course) in midst of Bulawayo's affluent suburbs.The former horse racing tracks are now overgrown by grass due to lack of activity," said Clr Ruzive.

He said the idea was to rejuvenate the area and ensure it meets into the redevelopment drive being driven by the local authority.

"The City of Bulawayo has therefore proposed the redevelopment of the former Ascot Race Course in an endeavour to bring in development that will rejuvenate and titivate the area. Broad objective to develop the former Ascot Race Course into an attractive state of the art mixed use node, with particular emphasis on enhancing the area's role as the city's leisure hub and centre of commerce," he said.

Meanwhile, Clr Ruzive also revealed that plans for the redevelopment of the city's oldest suburb, Makokoba is also being prioritised which will see the densification of the area in order to provide more housing accommodation and maximise the space available within the developed Makokoba Township.

Over the years, infrastructure in the suburb has experienced a sharp decline in standards with reports that in some circumstances two or more families are sharing a single room. This saw the local authority announcing the plan to redevelop the suburb in what they termed the Makokoba Local Priority Plan.

"The proximity of Makokoba to the Central Business District has some inherent advantages for the local population such as minimal transport costs and access to high order services. However, the age and condition of infrastructure has limited its contribution to the fiscal wealth of the city.

"The current Bulawayo Master Plan which states the need to utilise, so far as possible, all the existing available land within the current municipal area, prior to developing newland outside the existing boundaries.

This is the crux of the Makokoba Local Priority Plan objective of densification of the Makokoba area in order to provide more housing accommodation and maximize the space available within the developed Makokoba Township," said Clr Ruzive.

He said the objective of the local authority is to redevelop Makokoba into an attractive modern mixed use area that is self-contained with smart design and environmental friendly neighbourhood with particular emphasis on enhancing the area's role as the city's cultural hub

Historically, Makokoba was the first black African township in the city, it has been termed the home of arts and culture, with the Amakhosi Cultural Centre located just in the vicinity. The suburb was named after the actions of Mr Fallon, the then native commissioner, who used to walk around with a stick.

The name comes from the word ukukhokhoba which in the local Ndebele language means "bending and walking with a stick". It was referring to Mr Fallon as "the  old man who walks with a stick".

Source - The Sunday News