Naval Hill slowly turning into a world class recreation area

Executive Mayor of Mangaung Metro Thabo Manyoni officially opened Bloemfontein’s most scenic restaurant, The Edge, on Friday October 3. The opening of the restaurant, aptly named for its position on Naval Hill, coincided with the official launch of the Macufe Festival, scheduled to take place in Bloemfontein IN the week that followed.

The construction of the restaurant, which began in 2013, forms part of the city’s plan to rejuvenate the Franklin Nature Reserve, popularly known as Naval Hill.

The mayor has previously emphasised that Naval Hill “will contribute positively towards inner city rejuvenation”. 

“We are going to transform the hill from a rundown facility to a world class recreational area,” Manyoni previously said.

During his recent budget vote for the 2014/15 financial year, he revealed that the City will spend R23.5-million over the Medium-Term Revenue and Expenditure Framework period to implement Phase 2 of the Naval Hill Redevelopment. 

The restaurant has added to the aesthetics of the hill, which is the prime tourism destination for locals and visitors in Mangaung. As the single most prominent and iconic natural feature within the built area of Mangaung, Naval Hill has turned into a prime tourist destination following the erection of a 8m tall statue of former South African statesman, Nelson Mandela, in December 2012. Due to its location, Naval Hill has always been a prime spot for star-spotting, and also comes with an undisturbed bird’s eye view of Bloemfontein. This starry experience was further enhanced for astronomy lovers following the launch of the digital planetarium on the hill by the then minister of science and technology, Derek Hanekom, in November 2013. The digital planetarium is the first of its kind in the sub-Saharan Africa, and is a partnership between the Free State department of tourism and the University of the Free State.

Located within the existing game reserve on Naval Hill, the centre is a formidable resource for communication on the environment and the natural sciences, as well as the promotion of the arts. The planetarium itself is a versatile venue which can be used for concerts, state-of-the-art presentations, theatre productions, as well as meetings, conferences and exhibitions.

Taba Nchu Regional Park

The city started with the construction of the Thaba Nchu Regional Park earlier this year. Upon completion, this will be the largest recreational and educational park in Mangaung once completed. An amount of R20.5-million has been budgeted for the current financial year, while R12-million and R24.5-million has been put aside for the coming financial years respectively.  The first phase of the project is 80% complete. This phase included the construction of tennis courts and 5-a-side sports facilities that are 100% complete. The first phase also includes an amphitheatre, which is 90% complete. Phase 2 of project is the construction of an athletic track which will only commence after the appointment of a suitable contractor.

Historical Precinct will open soon

Hoffman Square will soon be opened for public use, following redevelopment of the historical precinct. The redevelopment of the Square is part of the Bloemfontein CBD regeneration programme geared towards stimulating local economic growth, sustainable livelihoods and a safe environment. The aim is to put the city on par with other world class cities.
The three CBDs in Mangaung Metro (Bloemfontein, Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu) remain important generators of economic activity in the municipality and the CBDs of Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu will soon undergo similar treatment.

This article forms part of a larger supplement which can be found here. The supplement has been made possible by the Mail & Guardian’s advertisers and the content has been signed off by the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality or the advertiser.

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