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Examining the compact city approach in urban development: a case study of Umhlanga Ridge New Town center, eThekwini Municipality.

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This study aims to explore the compact city approach adopted in the Umhlanga Ridge New Town Centre to assess and critique the design, assumptions and outcomes of the ‘compact city’ developed and in doing so ascertain whether or not this approach satisfies the compact city ideology in terms of a sustainable form of urban development for the City of Durban, EThekwini Municipality. Umhlanga Ridge New Town Centre represents the compact cities characteristics, which is clearly visible in its design however, the question remains; is it a form of sustainable urban development and one that truly demonstrates the characteristics of a compact city model? Compact cities refer to urban developments that are relatively high in density, mixed-use based on an efficient public transport system with dimensions that encourage walking and cycling (Burton, 2001). The main beliefs of compact cities, emphasise that urban activities should be located closer together to ensure better access to services and facilities via public transport, walking, cycling and more efficient provision of utility and infrastructure (Ofosu-Kwakye, 2009). Therefore, compact cities argue to be sustainable in terms of its prescription to higher densities that can support public transport and reduce the use of energy, ensuring efficient usage that allows for preservation of land, the ability for higher densities, mixed incomes and racial mixing, diversity and cultural development to promote social cohesion (Jenks et. al., 1996 & Williams, 2000).


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.