Pathways to Drive (Social, Economic and Physical) Transformation of Informal Settlements into Sustainable Urban Neighbourhoods: a Case of Johannesburg

Ndevu, Wandisa and Gumbo, Trynos (2022) Pathways to Drive (Social, Economic and Physical) Transformation of Informal Settlements into Sustainable Urban Neighbourhoods: a Case of Johannesburg. Mobility, Knowledge and Innovation Hubs in Urban and Regional Development. Proceedings of REAL CORP 2022, 27th International Conference on Urban Development, Regional Planning and Information Society. pp. 563-575. ISSN 2521-3938

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Globally, several studies have been commissied on informal settlements, particularly in cities such as Barcelona, Johannesburg, Cairo and Lagos. Much of the literature on urban informality from several disciplines maintain that informality occurs as a result of globalisation and population exclusions that occur due to development and urbanisation. Besides the prevalence of this phenomeon, there still lacks scholarly work that fully tackles the epistemology behind informal “otherness” of the urban form. Apparent gaps are notable in informal economies and communities which are detached from formal communities and thus, function to a greater or lesser extent without the intervention of formal economies. This paper focuses on investigating pathways to transforming informal settlements into sustainable urban neighbourhoods. The research adopted a case study research design wherein Johannesburg was used to investigate the socioeconomic political dimensions of informal settlements. This draws from various narratives that were employed to articulate the rationale behind informal settlement developments along with a contemporary understanding of the concept. This will further be contextualised under the spatial theme with reference to the urban form of the informal regions Therefore, the paper adopted a mixed method approach making reference to both a quantitative and qualitative research approach by means of a case study research design wherein various spatial planning tools are reviewed pertinent to the research objectives and offered a narrative perspective to the research aim and questions. We further conducted multiple interviews with various officials of the Johannesburg Department of Housing as a primary data collection method and a thematic analysis was respectively employed as tool of analysing the data The findings indicate that Johannesburg functions as a partial satellite city with sub-cities connecting to it and informal settlements in these areas have developed in a similar pattern. They form behind commercial spaces for the convenience of accessibility. A common trend across these settlements is their informal design typology and the lack of formal masterplans in conjunction to the city’s spatial development initiatives. Proximity to existing economic nodes such as Midrand, Kempton Park, and Sandton, provides a vantage point to both informal, transitioning, and formal urban forms. Across Kaalfontein, the informal urban form comprises natural and formalised street layouts. The erven are densely divided and are often influenced by the spatial landscape and density of the population. These findings indicate that there exists a need to critically and intrinsically query the expectations and rationale that lies behind local government strategies and policies that purport to be directed towards the sustainable upgrading of informal settlements and slums. Set against a background of entrenched socio-cultural protocols, limiting institutional processes, and economic disparity as noted in other strategic documents of the city, there exists a difficulty in integrating informal settlements into sustainable urban forms. In an era of joint ventures and ascendancy of neo-liberal market policy, informal settlements are increasingly at risk of being subject to the “full force” of formal state law to enable the redevelopment process to proceed. Consequently, The paper concludes by generating new perspectivess on sustainable urban forms under the context of informal settlements and provides clarity on how the city can employ the proposed indicator matrix toolkit to gauge informal settlements urban form sustainability performance. Key to the application of this matrix tool is geographic information systems software and spatial processing tools that can effectively deduce the relationship performance of various elements in facilitating the desired growth.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Informal Settlements; informal urban form; sustainable urban form; Informal settlement upgrading; spatial transformation.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Depositing User: The CORP Team
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2022 18:12
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2022 13:57

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