How can Florida Road become even greater : A new report highlights ways to improve the street

High streets around the world are being reconsidered in terms of the value they contribute to the city and the local community.

Florida Road is a landmark street in Durban. It attracts locals and visitors alike with its vibrant food and bar scene and safe environment. Its street life and reputation make it a key destination in the well-located neighbourhood of Morningside.

But looking closer, rather than functioning as a true neighbourhood high street, Florida Road emerges as a somewhat isolated leisure-oriented hub in the middle of a quiet residential area. Its links to the central city and the beach are underdeveloped, making it an inconvenient place to access. Its restaurant and bar scene is perhaps Florida Road’s strongest asset, however the street suffers from a patchy repetition of activities. Several inactive sections of the road and few overlapping activities fail to enable dynamic social interactions throughout the day.

Why do high streets like Florida Road matter?

High streets around the world are being reconsidered in terms of the value they contribute to the city and the local community. A recent report from the Greater London Authority High Streets for All the UK considered social value, which includes economic, social and environmental benefits. The report points out that ‘London’s high streets support and deliver multiple economic, social and environmental benefits to Londoners across the city’ far beyond just the direct localised benefits to surrounding communities.

In 2016 the Global Street Design Guide, an initiative led by the United States National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), established a global baseline for designing streets and public spaces while redefining the role of streets in a rapidly urbanizing world. The Guide broadens how to measure the success of urban streets to include access, safety and mobility for all users, environmental quality, economic benefit, public health and overall quality of life. The 10 Key Design Principles outlined therein are used to guide the approach and recommendations in this report.

What does this mean for Florida Road?

Change is happening in Durban, and Florida Road is changing with it. As the profile of the city grows, investment in urban places will see growth in jobs, residents and visitors. Florida Road is well placed to maximise the potential benefits of this transition. By carefully managing renewal with smart investments in improvements to public services, Florida Road can continue to grow as a safe, inclusive, prosperous, accessible, green and vibrant high street in Durban.

What could the outcomes on Florida Road look like?
  • Increased investment in development providing both short term and ongoing job growth.
  • Improved health and safety outcomes with few traffic incidents, less local air and noise pollution, more sustainable water management and increased ecological function.
  • Increase profile for the Durban brand and Florida Road as a key destination for visitors to the city.
  • A more socially diverse and inclusive place that welcomes all people regardless of their background.

This report provides a base and set of criteria which evaluate the current reality of the street, and its potential to be improved. The opportunities and possibilities presented therein as actions for cooperation between government, business and the communities that live and enjoy the area

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