The new UCT – a simple plan

26 August 2002
SPEAKING at the Vice-Chancellor's Open Planning Forum last week, Geoff de Wet, Head of the Physical Planning Unit, presented the difficulties that the University estate is experiencing due to the substantial increase in student numbers over the past few years.

"This has manifested itself particularly on Upper Campus in overcrowded classrooms, computer labs, libraries, saturated parking facilities and competition for space between faculties and demands for additional student housing," he said.

De Wet spoke at length about the various capital works projects currently being developed to meet these challenges and other priorities facing the University. He made it clear that while longer term plans were being discussed by his department, its medium term plans would be the focus of his discussion at the Forum.

"There is funding for 2003 of R3,1–million for classroom projects; the effect will be to increase the number of seats in existing venues.

"The tactic that is being adopted is, rather than building a new classroom, to increase the capacity in a sensible way. The target is to refurbish at least 20 lecture venues by 2005. But we need help from faculties and executive management to prevent overcrowding where sufficient seating is provided for a class," he said.

According to De Wet, one of the biggest dilemmas facing the Upper Campus is parking.

"In the past, the University has invested large amounts of money into parking but little into public transport infrastructure."

He said several plans were being discussed around relieving the parking shortage, plans that would favour an underground parking lot under the rugby fields so as to leave University Avenue and other walkways car-free.

Another was a parking fee structure and the provision of a comprehensive bus service so as to dissuade car owners from bringing their cars onto Campus.

The construction of the new Chemical Engineering Building on the Upper Campus provides, as one scenario, a short-term opportunity for the assembly of CHED in the existing Chemical Engineering Building, relief of space pressure in the Library and in the faculties of Commerce and Humanities.

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