Addressing the spatial inequality of economic infrastructure through spatial planning: a case of the proposed Edendale town centre in Msunduzi municipality.
Mkhize, Ntuthuko Brian.
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The apartheid planning in South Africa, legislated bias and racialized urban development through the common and notorious ‘apartheid city model’. Central to the apartheid’s spatial planning was unequal distribution of infrastructure, amenities and accessibility and most importantly was the long distance between residential and workplaces within low income residential areas. Therefore, it is still difficult for residents in the former townships to access socio-economic opportunities within their settlements as the necessary infrastructure for that has long remained insufficient. The resultant fragmented spatial form has resulted in widespread spatial inequality while making it difficult for government to integrate those areas spatially. Currently, South African spatial planning is still faced with a huge obligation to integrate the previously fragmented townships through encouraging the development of economic infrastructure to where most people live. This could play a role in integrating the previously disadvantaged areas while also improving the socio-economic status of those areas. The government of South Africa had introduced the National Development Plan (NDP) as the driving tool to address the spatial legacy in the former townships through its Urban Network Strategy (UNS). Henceforth, this study employed a mixed-method approach (both qualitative and quantitative) of data collection to investigate how spatial planning can foster and influence the development of economic infrastructure in the former townships to address the abovementioned spatial inequalities. Based on the findings of this research; it was proven that there is much expected from the Edendale Town Centre initiative in addressing spatial inequality in the study area. As rarely been the case before, the findings reveal that the initiative is likely to stimulate local economic development through the development of the informal traders’ market and the SMME Incubators. The findings also reveal that economic infrastructure planned within the proposed Town Centre such as the proposed mixed-use developments; will effectively address the socio-economic challenges facing Edendale Township and other surrounding areas while also integrating it to the Pietermaritzburg city centre and other better developed neighborhoods within Msunduzi Municipality. The Integrated Rapid Transport Network (IRPTN) which is also planned closer to the proposed Town Centre is more probable to improve public transport in the area. Hence, this will in turn reduce the spatial inequality of economic infrastructure in the area. However, the researcher concludes and recommends that to witness the era with reduced spatial inequality, there must be a link between infrastructure provision and spatial planning.