Spatial Transformation and Cities

Spatial Transformation and Cities

President Cyril Ramaphosa is admired for rallying citizens through the State of the National Address to be bold, reach beyond ourselves and dream of cities with adequate housing, job opportunities, public transport and places of education and health, given that seventy-five percent of South Africans will be living in urban areas by 2030. The South African Planning Institute is willing to be a strategic partner to the Presidency in mainstreaming, delivering and developing the capability for spatial transformation and envisaging a desired future.

We have identified the intensification of skilling to implement the new focus on sustainable spatial development as highlighted in the National Development Plan, Integrated Urban Development Framework and National Spatial Development Framework as the biggest challenge on how best to accelerate spatial transformation and improve the quality of places.

We welcome the President’s invitation to imagine what our future cities should look like. SAPI has arranged Spatial Transformation seminars in ten cities in South Africa from July to November 2019.

Spatial transformation going forward must address the apartheid spatial legacy and fully embrace new spatial practices in respect of sustainability, liveability, resilience and facilitate technological innovation and economic structural change. The aim of spatial transformation is explicitly to address the empowerment of most of the population impacted by historical spatial displacement and ongoing exclusion and inequality. The following wide-ranging initiatives require an approach that shifts the paradigm from disjointed planning to a single prism that takes the context of the socio-economic conditions and opportunities facing different areas:

(i) improve the existing places where people are living,
(ii) create new spatially and economically vibrant growth points,
(iii) create new opportunities for people to move into more central locations, and
(iv) create better linkages between Places through safe, efficient and affordable public transportation.
This all means that planners will have to influence and capacitate a whole new radical approach in property development, public transportation, and transit-oriented development.
Planning capability will have to be extended and advanced in three main areas:

(i) Design and application of Legislative Instruments – Designing, implementing and enforcing policy and legislative instruments and tools to facilitate subsidised and affordable housing integration in linkage corridors and existing high value precincts and neighbourhoods; and facilitating sustainable human settlements in general.

(ii) Inclusive Place-Making – Spatial structuring, design and planning to enhance urban form, integration, efficiency, liveability, and sustainability of places at various scales with a focus on social and economic inclusion.

(iii) Economics & Finance – Socio-Economic Cost-Benefit analysis; feasibility studies based on market realities, attractiveness and trends; financial viability of spatial interventions; and financial resourcing of projects.

There is a massive need to transform our existing cities into spatially inclusive spaces. This can be done through more visionary approaches to densification, vibrant affordable mixed-use development, public space making and mass transit light rail systems. There may well be a need for new cities, however there are ample opportunities to transform places like Soweto, Tembisa, Umlazi, Kwa Mashu, Mdantsane, Khayelitsha and Gugulethu into fully fledged compact cities with smart technologies.

We need to leapfrog urban development by deconstructing and reframing seemingly “problematic” concepts and instruments. We all need to be clear about what the South African version of a smart city is! We at SAPI believe it is first and foremost a city which addresses the apartheid space-economy regardless of whether it is brownfield or greenfield developments. We are convening our profession and built environment stakeholders with government to take it forward through a shared vision, identified projects and agreed compact within the framework of spatial transformation in our Spatial Transformation Seminars

We look forward to the support the implementation of well-considered policy recommendations emanating from existing and approved public policy documents and we are available to be a constructive partner in this enormous and visionary task.

Issued by

Itumeleng Nkoane

Contact Tshepo Moorosi 061 1307 265 email