Research Articles by Planning Academics

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    The persistence and rise of master planning in urban Africa: transnational circuits and local ambitions
    (Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group, 2022-03-27) Harrison, Philip; Croese, Sylvia
    Master plans have long been criticized by critical planners who have argued in favour of more strategic, collaborative and relational forms of spatial planning that can more adequately respond to local needs and realities, especially in the context of the global South. Rather than critiquing master planning, this paper seeks to interrogate its recent rise in urban Africa. Building on a review of international planning trajectories, the paper seeks to challenge dominant narratives in the Western literature around the rise and decline of master planning. Planning experiences from across the African continent illustrate how master planning was a limited practice under colonialism and emerged more strongly in early post-colonial years, while persisting through a quiet period of planning and proliferating in recent times. By exploring the diversity in the influences and approaches to master planning for new and existing cities in Africa over time, the paper positions master planning as the product of a complex array of transnational circuits and multiple local actors and ambitions which intersect across different scales. The study of master planning should therefore be considered as an important entry point into understanding and rethinking the contemporary politics of urban planning, implementation, and development in Africa.
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    The transcalar politics of urban master planning: the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Africa
    (Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group, 2022-09-22) Croese, Sylvia; Miyauchi, Yohei
    This article sheds light on the growing, but understudied role of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in supporting the local production of master plans across the African continent as a tool for guiding long-term investments in urban development. To explore the multiple logics, actors and interests driving the conception, preparation and implementation of these plans, we approach urban master planning as a transcalar process, through which diverse investment, planning and governance arrangements are produced and mobilized in ways that transcend the city scale. We illuminate these dynamics by building on an analysis of the history of Japanese development cooperation and drawing on case studies of JICA master planning in Malawi, Ghana and Tanzania.
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    Spatial inequalities and policies in South Africa: place-based or people-centred?
    (Elsevier Ltd, 2017-04) Todes, Alison; Turok, Ivan
    There is a robust international debate about how best to tackle spatial inequalities within nations and regions. The paper discusses three contrasting approaches: spatial rebalancing, space-neutral and place-based. They vary in the scope and purpose of government policy, from redistributing economic activity, to facilitating aggregate growth, and realising the economic potential of less-developed regions. The paper applies this framework to analyse South Africa’s five decades of experience of spatial policies. The context is one of stark spatial inequalities, uneven institutional capabilities, and mounting political pressure for change. Under apartheid, spatial targeting was highly instrumental and played a role in reproducing social divisions at considerable financial cost. Since the end of apartheid there has been much experimentation with spatial initiatives, but without any overarching vision or policy framework. A cautionary conclusion is that there are risks of extravagant spending in marginal locations when political pressures are strong, public institutions are weak and economic disciplines are lacking. Another is that place-based policies have potential, but require stronger vertical and horizontal policy alignment to stand any chance of tackling entrenched spatial divides. Enhanced local institutions involving private sector and community stakeholders are also essential for spatial policies to respond to the specific challenges and opportunities encountered in each place.
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    Urban Resilience Thinking for Municipalities
    (University of the Witwatersrand, Gauteng City-Region Observatory, 2014) Harrison, Philip; Bobbins, Kerry; Culwick, Christina; Humby, Tracy-Lynn; La Mantia, Costanza; Todes, Alison; Weakley, Dylan
    This document was prepared as a contribution to the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST’s) Grand Challenge on Global Change and as a complement to flagship initiatives such as the South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas project (Archer, et al., 2010). The Global Change Grand Challenge is aimed at “supporting knowledge generation and technological innovation that will enable South Africa, Africa, and the world, to respond to global environmental change, including climate change” (Archer, et al., 2010, p. ii). While the Grand Challenge highlights the importance of science in supporting South Africa’s response to global change, it extends beyond a purely biophysical focus to acknowledge the importance of the social sciences. There is a clear understanding that the most compelling responses to global change will come through the combined efforts of the natural and social sciences. The DST therefore supports a number of research programmes across South Africa that draw on a wide range of scientific and academic fields in responding to specific challenges of global change across rural and urban –South Africa. One of the key thematic areas supported through the Grand Challenge is “urban resilience”. This is not at the expense of work on rural areas, as there are also a number of research programmes targeting rural South Africa, but it is recognition of both the threats posed by poorly managed urban areas and of the opportunities that towns and cities offer for greater resilience and sustainability.
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    Mediation and the Contradictions of Representing the Urban Poor in South Africa: the case of SANCO leaders in Imizamo Yethu in Cape Town, South Africa
    (Palgrave MacMillan, 2014) Piper, Laurence; Benit-Gbaffou, Claire
    The formal system of local governance in South Africa has the ‘ward’ as its lowest and smallest electoral level – a spatial unit consisting of between 5000 and 15000 voters. The ward is equivalent to the ‘constituency’ in much of the rest of the world. Notably, the history of South Africa means that the vast majority of people live in ‘communities’ or neighbourhoods that are far smaller in scale than the ward, and most of these are the site of multiple claims of informal leadership by a variety of local organisations and their leaders. For example, the Cape Town ward, in which our case-study is located, includes at least five different communities, distinguished in racial and class terms. Existing ‘below’ and ‘within’ the formal area of the ward, popular practices of representation are manifested through a variety of community based organisations, more or less formalised, regulated and recognised. Some of these community based organisations are neighbourhood-specific, while some of them are federated into broader, national structures including the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO).