Urban regeneration and sustainability : conflicting or mutually supportive agendas within contemporary cities : a case study of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
In the context of globalization and neo-liberal urban restructuring, cities have been attempting to reposition themselves within the competitive global landscape through focusing on their images and their enhancement since the 1970’s. Rebuilding the city became the goal of urban policy through the process of urban regeneration, and large-scale, emblematic urban development projects or ‘mega-projects’ began to play a major role in this endeavour. However, in the current landscape of uncontained economic growth, social decline and ecological destruction, sustainability has become a critical concept, and the pursuit of a ‘sustainable city’ is a desirable goal. Urban policy consequently focuses on urban regeneration and sustainability as parallel agendas. This study focuses on the South African city of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, where regeneration has become particularly evident in recent years, with the focus intensifying when the country was awarded the bid for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, sparking the planning and construction of a number of mega-projects. Simultaneously sustainability has gained greater focus, as the need to develop within environmental limits has been recognized. Three particular mega-projects within the city are investigated: the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Warwick Junction Mall, and the Point Development; in order to explore the relationship between the two dominant agendas of contemporary urban policy. This is achieved through the exploration of the urban policy and regeneration landscape of the city, and the particular role which mega-projects play. Subsequently, the three mega-projects are assessed in terms of sixteen sustainable city principles to determine the extent to which they incorporate sustainability, and thereby the extent to which sustainability is considered in the city’s urban regeneration. The research findings reveal that although sustainability is present in the policy and planning rhetoric of the city, the mega-projects and urban regeneration do not include these principles to any meaningful extent. It is therefore concluded that these two policy strands are currently conflicting agendas within the planning and development landscape of Durban. There is a consequent need for sustainability to be practically incorporated to a greater extent in order to ensure a sustainable future for the city. i