Corridor Development as a Strategy to achieve a compact urban form : the case study of the Edendale Northdale corridor in Msunduzi Pietermaritzburg.
Perumal, Janette Govindamah.
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Technological advancement, the development of the automobile and the accelerated rate of urbanisation has transformed cities dramatically throughout the world. Whilst these radical changes contributed to worldwide growth and development, it has also led to complex problems such as resource depletion, environmental pollution, climate change, food insecurity and widening gap between the rich and poor. The adverse effects of sprawling land use developments, which has far-reaching consequences on cities. Whilst this phenomenon could be attributed to very different and unique socio-economic, and political circumstances that prevailed in both the global North and South, the common feature that has emerged in urban areas across the globe, has been a dispersed, inefficient, unsustainable spatial structure of cities. This furthermore exacerbated the impacts on economic, social and environmental sustainability. It is therefore argued that in response to the above urban crises innovative planning strategies, approaches and concepts have emerged to combat the adverse effects of urban sprawl. One of the initiatives promoted within the South African context has been the concept of the corridor development. In its quest to promote desirable sustainable development, this new concept inherently held the promise of achieving a compact-integrated urban environment. This dissertation critically examines corridor development as an urban strategy that has the potential to minimize urban sprawl and address 21st Century urban issues of inequality, poverty, and underdevelopment. The primary aim of this research is to examine the notion of corridor development in theory and practice. It evaluates the assertion that the concept is as an innovative strategy, which can significantly transform the economic, social and spatial structure of urban environments. In this instance, the Edendale-Northdale Corridor situated within the Msunduzi Local Municipality was identified as the focus of this research. The New Urbanism and Smart Growth theories provided a lens that underpinned and guided the study. The analysis of these theories considered the historical emergence, characteristics and main principles of walkability, connectivity, mixed uses, mixed housing, quality architecture, traditional neighbourhood structure, increased density, green transportation, sustainability and quality of life. These principles were adopted as key performance criteria against which the local case study was analysed. The conclusion drawn was that these two theoretical approaches provided an adequate framework through which to analyse international, national and local examples and good practice concerning corridor development. The literature review uncovered the historical development, debates, understandings and influences of corridor development, compact city and various other interrelated concepts. Whilst some scholars were sceptical, most studies underscored that corridor development was a powerful tool that promoted greater physical, socio-economic integration, compaction, high density mixed use development and high quality public transport that brought places of work-live and play closer. Learning lessons where drawn from best practice precedents at an international and national scale. Furthermore, these case studies demonstrated that the outcomes of corridor development were very different based on the unique circumstances of cities. However, these experiences did set benchmarks that cities across the globe could consider in their future planning. The local case study was interrogated against these best practice benchmarks and criteria. The primary focus of the research was the exploration of the proposed Edendale- Northdale Corridor, which is located in the Msunduzi Local Municipality in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. In order to assess the potential positive impact of the proposed corridor, a historical overview of the establishment of the City of Pietermaritzburg (now called Msunduzi), and the establishment of the suburbs of Edendale and Northdale has been presented. Critical to the discussion has been the legacy of Apartheid and its impact of spatial disjuncture in the specific area of research. The Edendale – Northdale area exhibits the socio-economic and underdevelopment characteristic of the Apartheid legacy that is synonymous with contemporary urban areas of South Africa generally, and KwaZulu-Natal specifically. A brief description of the proposed corridor and the New Town Node has been presented against this backdrop. The research is linked back to the principles outlined in the precedent chapter of the dissertation. It considers how well the corridor concept can be expected to perform given the current development challenges of the case study area. The research has utilised a qualitative research methodology, which consisted of both theoretical and empirical data. The theoretical component constituted a considerable part of the study. It included a comprehensive desktop study that involved in-depth analysis of secondary sources of data. The empirical component included the collection of information based on personal interviews with key stakeholders that are directly involved in the case study area. Use was made of structured questionnaires during interview sessions. The opinions, objectives and ideas of all role-players were reviewed and from these perspectives, a set of findings and recommendations have been drawn up. It is intended that these findings will improve the implementation of the corridor development initiative within the Msunduzi Local Municipality. The research revealed that the corridor development concept could not be applied in isolation. It has to be considered in relation to other concepts such as nodes, land uses, public transportation, high density and pedestrian-friendly planning layouts. Furthermore, the interconnectedness between these concepts has to complement each other in shaping the urban environment as the glue or the stitching together of all parts of the city. Findings from the case study confirmed that some of the key challenges and shortcomings confronting the successful implementation corridor development at a local level included the lack of inter-departmental and inter-governmental relations/collaboration; informal settlements located on strategic portions of land, land legal issues and land ownership. Institutional priorities that differ among internal sector departments and the political agenda of councillors can affect budget allocations and implementation. However, the final chapter concludes that corridor development as a strategy can potentially be used as a tool to achieve a well-defined compact-integrated urban form that will address the various social and economic deficiencies experienced by the poor and low-income areas in Msunduzi Local Municipality.