Towards a framework for assessing settlement patterns and trends in South Africa to guide sustainable settlement development planning : a case study of KwaZulu-Natal province.
This study presents a framework for assessing settlement patterns and trends to guide sustainable settlement development planning in South Africa. The rationale for the study is the persistence of multi-faceted interrelated, settlement challenges. At the beginning of the post-apartheid period in 1994, the new democratic government in South Africa adopted progressive policies to promote sustainable human settlements that integrate the various facets of human activity such as transportation, housing and socio-economic facilities. However, unsustainable and inefficient patterns of apartheid era planning persist more than 15 years into the post-apartheid settlements. Compounding this situation are new, unsustainable emerging trends such as the peripheral location of mono-functional low income housing developments in cities. This study argues that the main reason for the persistence of settlement challenges is the absence of comprehensive frameworks for the formulation of sustainable development plans that are informed by substantive theory, best practice and also the dialectical relationship among various settlement facets. It therefore develops a new framework and model for assessing settlement patterns and trends to guide sustainable development plans. The operational method is informed by a new synthetic theory of settlement patterns and trends, application of the theory to international and local patterns of policies and dynamics, empirical synthetic techniques for assessing settlement patterns and trends including the deductive formulation of sustainable development plans in localities, based on these interrelated components of the framework and model. Empirical synthetic techniques for the practical assessment of settlement patterns and trends are based on the translation of key theories and concepts of the synthetic theory into measurables. The synthetic empirical techniques use EThekwini Municipality in KwaZulu Natal province, South Africa as the case study since the municipality contains settlement typologies and systems that are typical of the province. The analysis of EThekwini Metropolitan Municipality revealed that prevailing settlement patterns and trends are not sustainable. On the other hand the municipality‟s development plans are not responsive to the heterogeneous socio-economic characteristics of the population in different settlement typologies including Local Economic Development (LED) potentials in the nodes in different functional regions of the municipality. On these grounds, the research study proposes alternative sustainable settlement development plans for EThekwini Municipality. The thesis recommends a dialectical deductive formulation of development plans based on the new framework of assessing settlement patterns and trends developed by this research. As such socio-economic investment priorities must be informed by the potential of economic growth in different town centres and functional regions all the same being responsive to social, economic and physical characteristics of the population. Pro-growth and pro-poor LED strategies should also be adopted, depending on the nature and extent of heterogeneity in the factors of production in the different town centres and settlement typologies they serve. Therefore, sustainable development plans can be achieved in South Africa if this new framework and model is adopted to guide future settlement patterns and trends.