The South African Planning Institute (SAPI) was formed on 1 July 1996 following the amalgamation of the SAITRP and the DPASA.A successor to the South African Branch of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI, established January 1944), the South African Institute of Town and Regional Planners (SAITRP) was formed in 1954. The Institute was for a number of years the only professional association of national significance in South Africa.
Prior to the Second World War, a number of regional bodies had been established. These included the ‘Town Planning Association of the Transvaal’ established in 1919 and lead by Colin Wade, the Cape Province Town Planning Association, established in 1931 and lead by A.H. Cornish, Bowden, and the Town Planning Association of Natal, also established in 1931, under the leadership of a surveyor by the name of Schelin.
In January 1944, the South African Branch of the Royal Town Planning Institute was established, but this was intended to serve much of southern Africa, and not just South Africa. There was however growing concern that there was a need in the post war period for a national body which concentrated on issues of national rather than regional significance.
It is recorded that by 1947, the Chairman of the Transvaal Town Planning Association, Professor Geoffrey Pearce of the University of the Witwatersrand, had encouraged a number of planners to support the establishment of a South African Institute of Town and Regional Planning. By 1953 the Cape Committee of the SA Branch of the Royal Town Planning Institute was also placing on record its support for the formation of an independent national body.
On 15 February 1954, a formal resolution was taken by a group of planners meeting at the University of the Witwatersrand to establish the South African Institute of Town and Regional Planners (SAITRP). The record shows that the planners present included PR Anderson, MD Baldocchi, NT Cooper, J Fassler, TB Floyd, K Douglas Green, HM Marsh, WPF McLaren and JH Scott.
For a period of about 40 years the SAITRP was the only professional association of national significance and had as its primary objective, ‘to advance the science and art of town and regional planning’, and was concerned mostly with the promotion of, and standards within, the profession and the discipline.
It was mainly concerned with the promotion of, and standards within, the profession and the discipline. The South African Council of Town and Regional Planners (SACTRP) was formed in terms of the Town and Regional Planners Act, 1984 (Act No 19 of 1984), and as a consequence, the statutory role and functions of the SAITRP fell away.
The Development Planning Association of South Africa (DPASA) was founded in January 1994 in response to the concerns and perceptions of a group of planners that the profession and the SAITRP was not doing enough to promote the transformation of both society and the planning profession in South Africa, nor creating sufficient opportunities for the empowerment of planners from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.