Conceptualisations and experiences of the presence of informal settlements into formal residential areas : a study of the residents in formal housing of the Clare Estate area, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
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Cities across the globe are characterised by inequality. Within South African cities the marginalised population has unequal access to certain resources and opportunities, one such resource that the research is centred upon is the access and occupation of land. Many South African formal residential neighbourhoods are characterised by their proximity to informal settlements. This is largely due to the fact that local government has not adequately addressed the issue of occupation and land; this is clearly evident in Clare Estate in which the study was undertaken. The thesis refers to literature that is critical of the notion of the ‘divided city’ concept and draws on other concepts such as justice, social inequalities, politics of space, sense of place and NIMBY to name but a few. The research adopted a quantitative and qualitative approach, where questionnaires and indepth interviews with relevant stakeholders structured the basis of the research, respectively. This thesis investigated the experiences and understandings of formal residents of Clare Estate, in regard to the informal settlement which is encroaching on their neighbourhood boundary. The majority of the formal residents were not satisfied with the presence of the informal settlers and requested the relocation of the informal settlements to another location. The thesis shows how the informal settlers have been stereotyped with negative images and therefore the formal community has socially excluded them. Furthermore, most formal residents interviewed emphasised that the presence of the informal settlements only attracted negative consequences, such as the increase in criminal activity, the hampering of social activities and the reduction of property values. In addition, this thesis reveals that there existed a strained relationship between the formal and informal communities in Clare Estate. It was also evident that the formal residents have attached a personal meaning to their residential area. This sense of place was seen to be threatened by the informal settlement in their neighbourhood. However, it should be stated that the local government authorities were re-addressing the issue of the encroachment of the informal settlement and there have been some attempts to relocate these settlements. Where the relocation initiative has not been successful, the government provided better building materials to the informal community to improve their housing situation in Clare Estate. However, this latter initiative was not accepted by the residents in formal housing who want the informal community ‘out’ of their residential area.
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