Inequality and Economic Inclusion

Wednesday, 01 October 2008

The State of Land Use Management in South Africa

  • Year: 2008
  • Organisation: TIPS
  • Author(s): Sarah Charlton For Urban LandMark
  • Countries and Regions: South Africa

This paper contributes to the urban component of the forthcoming ‘second economy’1 strategy. The brief called for a reflection on the issue of urban land use management (LUM), and extraction of the implications for the urban poor. For the most part the task involved a secondary analysis of work undertaken for the CUBES/Planact-managed investigation into land use management in Johannesburg in 2007: five case studies and the related overview report. These sources have been supplemented with a selection of other documents. The brief notes that the work is intended to focus on extracting the implications for enhancing the access of the poor to urban spaces. Of importance are the implications of the findings of the land use management study for urban investment.

In this paper, the background section briefly locates land use management within broader land and planning activities. The paper then describes the rationality and nature of the current land use management approach in South Africa. The third section discusses a number of key issues raised when considering LUM from a second economy perspective, and elaborates on the consequences of these issues. These issues have a strong metropolitan bias due to the nature of the source information. The last part of the paper draws out the implications of the discussion when considering interventions in urban areas.

LUM at first glance might appear to be a fairly technical and procedural activity. However a consideration of the field quickly reveals its deeper ideological and conceptual underpinnings, and the relevance of this to considerations from a second economy perspective. This paper therefore engages with LUM issues at various levels and in various ways, possibly more broadly than originally envisaged. In fact the paper has very limited engagement with the step-by-step activities involved in land development applications or changes to approved land use. It broadens consideration of LUM partly to flag the limitations of focusing only on ‘what activities to regulate’ on a particular portion of land, and also to consider the current impacts and outcomes of land management more generally. Whilst widening the set of issues discussed, the paper does however retain a focus on issues of relevance to ‘the urban poor’, although this terms is used loosely without exploring an important set of debates to do with definitions, issues of heterogeneity, diversity, and so on. The paper does not deal with many of the issues in land use management relevant to more wealthy developers.