The assessment of the relationship between spatial layout design and social cohesion within gated communites: case studies of Zimbali coastal resort, Kindlewood Estate and Izinga Ridge.
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There has been an apparent rise in gated communities on a global scale from the United States of America, Europe, Asia, and within Africa. Gated communities are seen to be a popular development used for residential developments, for those who can afford it. Within the South African context, there seems to be the argument that gated communities contribute to a better lifestyle, and there are numerous positive and negative aspects regarding the development of gated communities (Landman, 2012). It is understood that there are an increasing number of gated developments attracting members of the high-income groups as literature shows that the wealthy seek out privacy, luxury and security. There is a need to research and understand the social dynamics involved in this phenomenon and to understand whether the layout within these communities influences the social cohesion within them, as it will be influenced from a planning perspective. This research could prove vital in understanding the social dynamics of gated communities by understanding whether planning is a primary influence on these developments or those who invest in them. The aim of the research was to assess the relationship between spatial layout design and social cohesion within gated communities, using the case studies of Zimbali Coastal Resort, Kindlewood Estate and Izinga Ridge. The theoretical and conceptual aspects which informed the research were those of New Urbanism/ Smart Growth, New Urban Agenda and the Seven Qualities of ‘Responsive Environments’. These theories were used to understand urban development and served as reference points to measure the gated communities of interest within the research. From this, the literature speaking about the gated community topic was discussed and outlined within the research. This literature outlined the understanding of the gated community concept, the understanding of how this gated community development type came to be and its popularity from an international and local perspective. Understanding of the different types of gated communities was outlined within the study, as well as the aspects and dynamics of an urban community and the social cohesion aspects. The research methodology of the study proceeded with a qualitative approach which utilised site visits, interviews and documentation regarding the case study areas. The study areas and the findings of the study showed that although there were vast differences between each of the case study areas, there were also a few common characteristics. The differences were that the development goals of each and the context of each development were different. There similarities were that there was no unauthorised access to the gated communities by the public and that the facilities within were solely for the residents within. The provision of social facilities was found to be the means for promoting social cohesion within the developments. The hypothesis of the study was thus proven as the spatial layout design affected the social cohesion within the gated communities under study.