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Spatial planning and densification: the case of Glenwood, eThekwini Municipality, South Africa.

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The study examined the concepts of spatial planning, in the form of land use zoning and densification, with the purpose of establishing possible solutions to the post-apartheid urban residential land use in practice. According to Twinam (2018) and Calder (2017), zoning is the subdivision of urban land for different use purposes, accompanied by specified lots and building regulations. The zoning regulations include permissible lot sizes, the floor area ratio (FAR), building height, lot coverage, and boundary set-backs. The lot size is indirectly proportional to the degree of densification, whilst other specified zoning elements are directly proportional to the degree of densification. This study investigated the extent to which spatial planning encouraged densification and land use change in the suburb of Glenwood in the Ethekwini Municipality, South Africa. The use of a mixed methodology and triangulation provided pragmatic solutions to the spatial planning matters investigated in this study. Effectively, the study answered the question of how spatial planning encouraged/discouraged densification in the suburb of Glenwood. The examination of the South African spatial development legislative framework for the Ethekwini Municipality and the studying of the interface between the broader Ethekwini spatial planning objectives with Glenwood's lot zoning brought to the fore possible zoning alternatives for densification in the Glenwood area. The national South African legislative policies that guide densification objectives in the Ethekwini spatial planning policy framework are mainly the Constitution (Sections 24, 25, 26 and 154 ), the Municipal Systems Act (Sections 23 and 25), the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA) (Sections 7, 21, 25 and 28), and the Housing Act (Section 2). The policy objectives of these provisions directly and indirectly demand the densification in the inner suburbs of South African cities by virtue of the inner city suburban areas' proximity to areas of socio-economic vitality. For example, the Constitution prohibits any law that allows arbitrary deprivation of property in ways that prevent the redress of past racial immovable property discrimination. SPLUMA compels the scheme to promote economic growth, social inclusion, efficient land development, and minimal impact on public health and the environment. The Housing Act also directs higher housing development density to effect economical use of the land and services. The prescriptions cited are features of densification. Ethekwini's Spatial Development Framework (SDF) policies are conceived within this national legislative environment. Amongst the Ethekwini SDF policies are the Ethekwini Densification Plan, the Berea Urban Core Extension Plan (BUCEP) and the resultant Ethekwini Land Use Scheme for the Glenwood area. The Densification Plan leaves unclassified densification levels in some of the strategically located residential areas like Glenwood. The Berea Urban Core Extension Plan is a Local Area Plan (LAP) with the intention to retain the apartheid configured spatial arrangement in the Glenwood area, and the land use scheme for Glenwood demonstrates discouragement of densification outside the 400m buffer zone of a single provincial road, in this instance the R102. The limited attempts at densification in the Glenwood area demonstrate a contradiction between the national level spatial development policy prescriptions and the local level practical objectives. The findings from key informants' data and survey data also demonstrate relatively sparse spatial development in the Glenwood suburb. The Ethekwini Municipality's density gradient for Glenwood also contradicts the international trend observed from the Accra and Rome case studies. This study recommends a study of the Berea Urban Core Extension Plan, with the specified intent to density the Glenwood and surrounding areas, with pro-active zoning results that promote pro-poor densifying of the residential developments in the area.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.