An analysis of the socio-economic impact of inner city urban regeneration as a strategy against urban decline : the case of Durban Point Precinct Development.
Mnikathi, Zinhle Pamela.
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Most of the inner cities and big towns have in one way or the other experienced urban decline. So many reasons can be attributed to urban decline, including but not limited to, property abandonment, crime, high unemployment and the rundown of inner city services, leading to the failure to attract new investment. The study was aimed at analysing the socio-economic implications of urban regeneration as an approach to curb inner city decline. The study focused on exploring the extent of the inner city urban regeneration strategy’s impact on primarily socio-economic issues in creating a sustainable inner city urban environment. This was by exploring the applicable inner city principles, the institutional involvement, socio-economic sustainability and the challenges and outcomes experienced with the urban regeneration Durban Point Precinct project, in proving whether it was an ideal strategy or not. The study utilised qualitative research methods, primarily face-to-face interviews, direct observation and questionnaires. The study was conducted in the Durban Point Precinct Development area, south of the Durban Central Business District, along the Durban beachfront to the harbour entrance. The development falls within the eThekwini Municipality Central Municipal planning region, under the strategic priority area within the eThekwini Municipality’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP). The study area is historically known to be neglected in terms of development, particularly because of the run-down areas within the study area. This study focused on investment as a catalyst for redevelopment in order to improve the Point area and reverse the much-noted decline and bad reputation of this area. With the current development of the Durban Point Precinct, a sample of six properties, inclusive of business operations and residents, was drawn out of the 54 properties selected for redevelopment within the area. As part and parcel of the sample size, five residents were drawn from the 45 units occupied. The theoretical framework for the study was based on: The Neoliberalism Theory, the Competitive City Theory, the Communicative and Collaborative Planning Theory and the Modernisation Theory. Arising from this, the findings of the study indicated that the Durban Point Precinct regeneration development project proved to be driven more towards the future economic success for a more mixed-use and waterfront destination, with minimal social success. It was further revealed how the regeneration project, although incomplete, provided sustainable measures through the satisfaction of the current residents and business operations, and with the objective of a world-class waterfront development. One of the study’s recommendations stated that in order to avoid public objections to the development, the local people had to be given the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process and be involved in the urban planning process. Regeneration of the area could also only succeed by finding the necessary partnerships. The study concluded that the inner city urban regeneration strategy was the ideal approach in dealing with declined areas as it placed much focus on economic and social life. It further concluded that in retracting the loss of the inner city, urban regeneration acts as a suitable tool in addressing redevelopment and rebranding of the inner city.