An analysis of a degenerating urban area and recommendations for its renewal : a case study of South Beach, Durban.
The degeneration and decay of urban areas is a result of a combination of factors that lead to the downward spiraling of the performance of the economy concerned, the quality of life of citizens residing in the area, a lack of investor confidence, and environmental degradation and vice versa. The purpose of this study was to determine if South Beach, Durban, is blighted, what the causes of blight in the area are, how the existing blight can be eliminated and if it requires an urban renewal intervention. Through various methods, such as mapping, observation studies, questionnaire surveys, and interviews, it was determined that certain areas of South Beach are in a state of economic, physical and social decline. The decay of the case study area is occurring in pockets, with a greater concentration on Point Road. The decay of the region is due to a culmination of contributive elements that are slowly leading towards a blighted neighbourhood. Forms of blight that have been noted in the case study area are physical, functional, frictional and economic. This is partially because land-uses are incompatible, there are several vacant sites and empty buildings, the area lacks green spaces, and there are also several irregular-shaped sites. Other factors contributing to the blight of the area are the land-uses of South Beach, which are not in keeping with what was the original intent, i.e. what the area was zoned for. This has also given rise to blight in the case study area. South Beach's deterioration and urban decay is due to many factors, including poor maintenance and the mismanagement of buildings, poor co-ordination between key role-players and stakeholders, a lack of urban management, unsafe areas, and a lack of the private sectors' contribution. In order to reduce the spread of the various forms of blight evident in the area, the South Beach case study area requires an urban renewal intervention. Urban renewal of the area is required to attract investment; to create an environment that is aesthetically simiiar to, and works in conjunction with the new uShaka Island and Marine Theme Park, attractions at North Beach, Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World; and to position itself as an active role-player within the Golden Triangle of Suncoast, uShaka Island and the International Convention Centre. Recommended methods of renewal are aimed at sustainability and the rehabilitation, conservation, and revitalisation of the area. There is a need to collaborate strongly with the private sector in order to renew South Beach. The collaboration will increase the confidence levels of both domestic, as well as foreign investors. Other recommendations for the sustainable urban renewal of South Beach include the proper urban management of the case study area, management of the buildings, incentives provision to the respective stakeholders, and ongoing public participation processes. By-laws also need to be passed to ensure that the area is properly renewed and that it will be sustainable over the long-term. South Beach does require an urban renewal intervention in certain areas that will address the physical, social and economic spheres of the case study area. In order for the area to be renewed in a sustainable, transparent and equitable manner, all stakeholders must be equally represented and their views taken into account in the planning, implementation and monitoring phases of the renewal of South Beach.