Conflicting rationalities in densifying the Corridors of Freedom: the case of the knowledge precinct.

Tshiashi, Livhuwani Waren
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University of the Witwatersrand, School of Architecture and Planning
The City of Johannesburg’s spatial structure still resembles the apartheid spatial configuration. The marginalized are still mostly located at the outskirts of the city without the monetary means to move to well-located areas and closer to economic opportunities. The City has highlighted the daily hardships of the poor as a major problem. Furthermore, the majority of the working class have to spend approximately 20 per cent of their monthly income on transport (City of Johannesburg, 2015). The lack of affordable housing in close proximity to the inner city further adds to the challenges. The City seeks to address these challenges through Corridor and Transit Oriented developments (TOD). According to the City, through the use of cheaper, efficient transportation systems, people will be able to spend less time commuting to and from work (City of Johannesburg, 2015). However, transportation forms only but one part of the plan to try and bring people closer to economic opportunities. The City seeks to accommodate people of different socio-economic stature along the proposed developmental corridors. TOD builds on densification as a tool to increase populations around transport systems in order to maximize public transport use. They create an environment that stimulates the use of alternative transport to private cars. Through mixed land-use, the City seeks to create integrated neighbourhoods where people will ‘live, work and play’ without having to travel long distances (City of Johannesburg, 2015). However, TOD is often associated with rising property prices (Curtis, et al., 2009). In a context where there is a need for affordable housing in well-located areas, there is a risk that TOD will result in higher property prices and pose a threat to the inclusion of low-income residents in the City. People living in cities in Africa have often looked at bottom-up approaches to solving their problems. Despite being regarded as ‘informal’ these practices are a norm and they are an important component of the city fabric (Jenkins, 2013). Backyard housing is an example of these practices and it significantly reduces the housing demand in South Africa (Lemanski, 2009). Furthermore, it is an affordable housing alternative that performs various roles for poor households. The aim of this research is to find out how people in the Corridors of Freedom perceive densification and their position on the proposed densification policy in light of the need for affordable housing in the Knowledge Precinct. It draws on the characteristics of TOD and questions the feasibility of achieving affordable housing through TOD and whether or not ‘unconventional’ or ‘informal’ ways to densification have a place in the Corridors of Freedom. The research concludes by drawing on the possible impacts of TOD on housing affordability and provide recommendations on how affordable housing could be achieved in the Corridors of Freedom.
A Research report submitted to the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in partial Fulfillment of the requirements of the Honors degree in Urban and Regional Planning
Informal densification , Freedom corridors--South Africa--Johannesburg , Transit oriented development , Bottom-up approaches to housing , Live, work and play