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Municipalities, local authorities and provincial government are responsible for the allocation of land rights and for spatial planning.

The erstwhile South African government under the Apartheid regime used these powers effectively to design racially and segregated settlements to displace and dispossess Black people of their rights to land and ownership of land and economically prioritise formerly white areas. This was achieved by: geographically segregating races and denying business rights and ownership rights to Black areas thus hampering economic development in those areas.

The democratic government since 1994 has gone ahead to exacerbate these skewed patterns of development by entrenching the existing urban management and town planning laws which favour previously white areas over previously black areas by continuing to invest vast amounts into infrastructure into the formerly white areas. The ANC led government has in the mere 24 years increased the value and capital formation in the formerly white areas by more than 2000% (Stat SA: YEAR) far more than what even the apartheid government were able to achieve in the same areas, whilst during the same period economic advancement of formerly (and still predominantly) Black (dormitory reserves) townships into much larger dormitories. The failure of some of these large urban areas to develop into proper towns or least have recognisable central business districts or commercial zones is clear evidence of lack of understanding of the power that the democratic government has which it is able to wield without any compulsion or change in legislation.


  1. A narrow focus on policies that promote economic growth and revenue generation, at the expense of both environmental and social justice, claiming that growth-result is the greater good for the majority.
  2. Urban (Town) planning and spatial policies in the majority of municipalities, that is narrowly focused and limited to properly planning for previously advantaged areas, thus perpetuating apartheid based spatial design and planning structures.
  3. Demand-driven, private sector-led land investment (planning) encourages urban sprawl, concentrates on keeping socioeconomic segregation, maintains spatial divisions and thus resulting in spatial poverty traps and inefficient cities.
  4. Disproportionate access to strategically located land by established commercial developers who continue to perpetuate exclusionary development because they have access to finance, capital and networks.
  5. The top-down approach to spatial planning where people are not considered active participants of planning but merely seen as the subjects of the planning process and an object of municipal plans.
  6. In most municipalities, spatial planning involves using macro-view strategies employing ‘big think’ tactics, few (if any) plan to create a localised vision for their communities and how to attain such vision.
  7. Skewed spatial distribution of urban facilities and location of public services, unmindful of socioeconomic conditions.
  8. The current Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) processes of development in the rural and traditional authorities areas takes long, offering commercially time onerous land leases.


  1. Municipal by-laws pertaining to spatial planning and land development must-have requirements, conditions and procedures that require all planning permissions and approvals for any land development application to be granted contingent on meeting a redistribution and social transformation criteria.
  2. Approval of land development applications or the granting of development rights to any new (greenfield) or brownfield developments must be contingent on the following principles and ensure the most socio-economically productive use of the land:
    • must incorporate measures to reduce geographic (location) and income segregation;
    • all commercial developments must incorporate entry-level (affordable) housing; and/or
    • all medium to large scheme developments must integrate food production as part of urban design.
  3. Local government (by-laws) policies on spatial planning and land use must be amended to incorporate granting of development rights which should be subject to:
    1. include a social housing or accompanied by the public infrastructure development plan;
    2. ensure low-income groups are provided for either through the allocation of affordable housing or the investment into infrastructure in neighbouring communities. This will facilitate access to economic opportunities and services for workers and lower-income employees and reduce the burden of travel costs.
  4. State and municipalities must develop localised master plans (plans to create a localised vision for the affected communities) for the areas under their jurisdiction, in particular, rural and under-serviced areas, in order to open them up for investment by the private sector.
  5. Land use approval must be subject to compliance with B-BBEE requirements and legislation to ensure the inclusion of black practitioners and black-owned businesses in the spatial planning and land development value chain.
  6. DRDLR to assess and review current processes on developments in the rural and traditional authorities, pertaining to the development approvals, land lease structures and tenure offered by the tribal authorities.

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