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A critical analysis on the applicability of previously established theoretical growth models in post-apartheid South Africa : the case of the Durban Metropolitan Area.

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The history of the Durban Metropolitan Area (DMA) is embedded in the establishment of the Port of Durban, which is situated on the coastline that stretches from Umkhomaas (South of Durban) through to the Ballito area (Northern areas). This coastline has developed tourist attraction, from the beaches and the recreational activities surrounding this natural asset. Prior to this tourist hub, Colonial planning models were set to create an industrial city that formed the main import and export point for South Africa and other surrounding colonial regions. The city would accommodate laborers who came from as far as India to work at Durban’s port as well as the sugarcane fields surrounding the Port area. To respond to the growing residential and infrastructural needs, foreign Theoretical Growth Models were replicated and utilized by the Colonial regime to respond to the need for more accommodative spaces. These models included the Burgess Concentric Zone Theory, the Hoyt Sectoral Theory and the Bid Rent theory, which represent the earliest planning tools used in the Durban Metropolitan Area. However, over the years the Durban Metropolitan Area (DMA) has experienced various shifts and development changes in the make-up of its urban realm. With globalization becoming a worldwide norm, its impact on population growth numbers is visible given the pressures for further development from the rate of urbanization. These changes have often associated the Durban Central Business District (DCBD), with negative connotations regarding its physical, social, environmental and political stance as a major node in the City of Durban. The city centre is known for crime, prostitution, haphazard buildings, pollution and business flight. Contrary to that, the North of Durban is currently experiencing numerous major developments and slowly adjusting from a previously agricultural area to a flagship area of prestige landscapes and designs. Various new developments have mushroomed in and around the Northern regions of Durban, following the construction of the Gateway Theatre of Shopping and the relocating of Durban’s International Airport from the South of Durban to the Northern suburbs. These adjustments to the spatial realm have seen decentralization of business from the Durban Central Business District to the Durban North areas. This study analyzes the development trends of the Northern suburbs by identifying the factors that have driven development out of the Durban CBD area to form what is seen as a sub-metropolitan area, or secondary nodal zone. The study informs the state of Durban’s CBD area by analyzing the needs driving the current successful development patterns in the Northern suburbs of Durban. The identified needs will determine whether the previously used theoretical growth models are still relevant to the context and unique needs of South Africa.


Master of Town and Regional Planning. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2016.


Durban--Economic conditions., Durban--Social conditions., Durban--Economic policy., Theses - Town and Regional Planning.