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Town and Regional Planning

On-line version ISSN 2415-0495
Print version ISSN 1012-280X

Town reg. plan. (Online) vol.82  Bloemfontein  2023 



From the guest editors



Sijekula Mbanga; Thomas Stewart



Human settlements are so much more than houses, public open spaces, infrastructure, municipal services, residents, as well as formal and informal settlements. It is indeed a dynamic complex organism or system with many sub-systems, constantly changing for better or for worse. Many of the lessons and experiences of the developed world are of a universal nature, while others are unique to the context of the developing and future developing world.

It can also be argued that, historically, human settlements reflect an evolutionary phenomenon, and thus, while influencing the form and character of urban and rural fabric, they are equally impacted on by multi-layered social, economic, political, and technological changes. Climate change, war, conflict, poverty, global public health, and other pandemics have demonstrated an unimagined influence on the elusive nature of human settlements. Policy-makers, professionals, developers, and scholars alike should understand the task of development and management of human settlements as being context specific.

The major economic output and job opportunities are mainly concentrated in cities and secondary towns in South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and generally across the globe. This incentivises the rapid movement of people into these areas of relative opportunity. While cities are associated with promise and opportunity, evidence continues to expose a reality of a systematic exclusion of certain population groupings from meaningfully participating in urban economies for the improvement of the quality of life, hence the conception of 'urbanisation of poverty'.

Contemporary urban development discourses, couched in the urban differential theorisation, are increasingly questioning the reliability and potentiality of the modern city as a place of promise and opportunity. This discourse argues for an evolving space, much wider and fluid than the current rigid and heartless space called a city. The Pan African city scholars and pro-inclusive city urbanists make a clarion call for cities and human settlements, in which the hopes and aspirations of all inhabitants are fulfilled, dreams of young and old are nurtured and sustained, and social and economic burdens and privileges are equitably shared across race and class. These are viewed as cities of the future, cities for all, leaving no one behind, excluding no one in urban enjoyments, representing a shift to the origins of humankind. Whilst we are developing a decolonised, uniquely contextual epistemology of human settlements, this cannot happen without the diligent contributions of researchers and academics alike.

Town and Regional Planning journal together with the Institute of Human Settlement Practitioners of South Africa (IHSP-SA) has dedicated this journal as a special issue, with a focus on human settlements, contributing to the plethora of debates that characterise the sector and some of its sub-sectors. The collaboration in the compilation of this journal is evidence of the transdisciplinary nature of human settlements, as is the diversity of articles accepted for publication. Having realised the multifaceted and multidimensional nature of human settlements as a phenomenon and eco-system, this special issue is released under the theme: 'Re-imaginaries of just, equitable, resilient and efficient future human settlements'.

This special issue has been enriched by the following scholarly contributions.

Geci Karuri-Sebina & Frederick Beckley re-examine the urban redevelopment processes and ecosystems of South Africa to identify why spatial inequality and exclusionary trends, mainly affecting the majority poor non-White population, are being retained. This article adopts Atuahene's concept of 'dignity taking and dignity restoration' (DT/DR) as a lens to unearth the exclusionary effects of gentrification that are noticeable in systematic property deprivation, dehumanisation, and infantilisation of poor non-White South Africans. Theoretically anchoring their argumentation on DT vs DR, the authors posit that the brutal and hostile behaviour of urban land markets in the post-apartheid South Africa constitutes a pathology of DT, which calls for DR policy and practice responses. The article draws on the lived experiences of four urban case vignettes pertaining to dynamics of socio-spatial change in post-apartheid South Africa with focus on gentrification. The article concludes that DT/DR could be used as an urban development lens to gauge progress or lack thereof in achieving the transformation goal espoused in South Africa's Integrated Urban Development Framework enjoining all spheres of government to pursue spatial development initiatives that are underpinned by principles of spatial justice, sustainability, efficiency, resilience, and good administration, leaving no one behind.

Ayodeji Obayomi, Ayobami Popoola, Samuel Medayese & Bolanle Wahab examine the liveability challenges faced by the residents of Kabawa informal community, south-east of Lokoja in Nigeria. Primary and secondary data was collected and analysed utilising several research methods and instruments. The study uncovered slum characteristics in the Kubawa neighbourhood, and these include poor housing conditions, poor sanitation, indiscriminate waste disposal, acute lack of basic services, filthy living environments, illiteracy, and poverty. To attain better liveable household and community environments, the authors recommend improved planning and partnership between government and other community development stakeholders. The article concludes by proffering an integrated participatory community-centred development and financial framework.

Anna de Jager explores the nexus between development, conservation, and sense of place from a geographical perspective. The Rietvlei Nature Reserve in Tshwane, Gauteng province, South Africa, is used as a case study for the development of a Greenspace Stress Model of Urban Impact. Several research methods were used, concluding that urban growth leads to increasing human needs and expectations regarding the ecological services provided by green spaces. A variety of stressors exist and are intensified by development pressures, administrative boundaries, and insufficient environmental awareness. The author states that successful local strategies support the idea of green space being fit for purpose and meet the expectations justifying its existence. The article concludes that the physical characteristics and functions of an urban green space as well as the environmental perception and sense-of-place evaluations of different stakeholders are important in decision-making about green spaces and sustainability of ecosystem services.

Zaakirah Jeeva, Juanee Cilliers & Trynos Gumbo review how local administrative boundaries can theoretically be delineated. With urban settlements sprawling beyond urban growth boundaries, due to several factors, administrative boundaries are being restructured to be more accommodating to unplanned growth, thereby setting a clear limit to urban regions. The lack of distinct administrative boundaries creates the scope for certain urban problems such as civil conflict, administrative duplication, environmental and lack of service delivery to become more prevalent. The article also evaluates criteria for the demarcation of boundaries and the resulting structures. It points out that the method of demarcation is not apparent, due to a variety of factors influencing open systems. It provides an awareness of the challenges, administrative and policy implications of determining administrative boundaries. The authors conclude that further research and action is required to address this matter.

Diana Dahwa, Aldridge Nyasha Mazhindu & Kudzai Chirenje present a case study for the identification of a solid-waste disposal site for New City, Harare. New City resulted from the need to accommodate the ever-increasing human population settling in urban areas of Zimbabwe. They made use of remote sensing and GIS to select an appropriate landfill site in an area where a new human settlement, with residential, commercial, and industrial areas is to be developed. Considering the potential negative social, health, and environmental impact of a landfill site, they made use of multicriteria evaluation and weighted overlay analysis methods to select an appropriate landfill site. Five potential sites were identified, taking rivers, settlements, roads, protected areas, and soils into consideration. While 73% of the land in the study area is highly unsuitable for siting a landfill site, only 8% is moderately suitable. Furthermore, the authors developed a real time Web-GIS monitoring interface to monitor the ongoing development of the area and support decision-making by the relevant disciplines.

Tabaro Kabanda evaluates the structural design of road networks in Kimberley, South Africa, using spatial network science and open-source OpenStreetMap data. The study leads to a deeper understanding of the road network's spatial organisation, which, in turn, should contribute to more sustainable solutions to the increasing burden on South African road networks. Nonplanar-directed multigraphs were constructed to enable an analysis of the structural and morphological characteristics of the network. Several network-analysis methods were applied, indicating how the legacy of racial segregation, poverty, and isolation from social and economic opportunities, impede access to commerce and services. The results also indicate how the informal sections of Galeshewe have a fine-grained road network, which contrasts with the coarse grain of the Kimberley CBD and surrounding areas.

Wilfred Omollo examines the extent to which the provision of urban green spaces (UGS), perceived to be declining, conform to areas zoned as UGS in physical development plans (PDPs). Kissi Town in Kenya is used as a case study. The study is anchored in the theory of regulatory compliance. The analysis relied on GIS, descriptive and inferential statistics that indicated a 52% decline in a 75ha area, zoned as UGS, in the period between 2005 and 2022. This lowered the per capita UGS to 1.95 m2 against the recommended 9 m2. The reasons for the decline are sited as developing without permits; permits granted to non-applicants; approval of developments without the mandatory change being approved or applied for; insufficient monitoring of developments; lax enforcing of zoning regulations, and poor involvement of registered architects in the development control process. Recommendations are also made for a revised PDP and the execution of development control, emphasising that the UGS will further decline if not implemented, depriving residents of the benefits thereof.

Peter Magni, Mari Smith, Helena Jacobs & Natasha Murray present their unexpected positive findings on the applicability of the differential urbanisation model to the subnational scale of the Western Cape province and the Cape Winelands district municipality. Their findings may assist in the public division of resources, particularly in small towns, where meaningful urbanisation occurs, yet capital allocations are limited. The applicability of the study is in keeping with trends in planning that emphasise the interrelationship between settlements of different size and function over time and the importance of spatial planning in guiding public infrastructure expenditure.



1 Prof. Sijekula Mbanga, Department of Building and Human Settlements, Nelson Mandela University, Gqeberha, South Africa. Email:, ORCID:
2 Mr Thomas Steward, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein. Phone: 051 401 3042, email:

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