Assessing the relationship between urban blight and city attractiveness: the case of Mthatha CBD.
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This study interrogates the conception of urban blight in the context of Mthatha, which is a relatively small town as compared to big cities. The aim of this study is to establish and assess the relationship between urban blight and city attractiveness. This is motivated by the view that in existing discourse, the notion of urban blight is often presented within a confined paradigm of big cities and the problems they face. In so doing, the study argues that urban blight can apply even to smaller towns regardless of the fact that they are faced with different dynamics from the cities within which the concept of urban blight interrogated. In the context of Mthatha, one of those dynamics is the attractiveness of the town as it functions as a regional socio-economic hub in its district. Interestingly, upon employing qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques in complementary ways using primary and secondary data, the study finds that this attractiveness causes urban blight in the Mthatha CBD. This is based on the findings that demonstrate that this city attractiveness yields an overloaded landscape that generally fails to cater for the people that depend on it. This is attested by the fact that the attractiveness of the Mthatha CBD has resulted in the proliferation of an immense informal sector, which thrives through exploiting the infrastructure of the town. Evidently, this does not only overburden the infrastructure, but also brings about derogatory land uses and property encroachments that depress property values and accelerate the rate of deterioration of not only the properties, but also the infrastructure of the town. Eventually, this results in a blighted urban landscape that yields crime and poses a threat to the public for health and safety reasons. To curb this, the study proposes an urban regeneration that will target issues pertaining legislation and policy, infrastructure backlogs, housing delivery, local economic development and increasing the revenue base of the KSDLM as it is essential in improving the lives of the people of Mthatha.