THE PRACTICE GROUP BLOG

Spatial Planning

The Connection Between Spatial Planning and Sustainable Land Use Management To understand how spatial planning relates to sustainable land use management, it is essential to understand the function of spatial planning. In essence, the latter is a function performed in the public sector regarding the distribution of land use activities in a particular geographical area. What Is Spatial Planning? It entails the organisation of spaces and the uses thereof. It is essential to create a balance between the demands for spatial development and the protection of the land in use. Social and economic objectives should be attained while using land effectively, as opposed to stripping the land or spoiling it for future generations. Spatial planning, if the right principles are followed, helps to improve quality of life and ensures sustainable economic and social development. It is a method whereby the public sector ensures the distribution of activities and people according to a plan (typically a Spatial Development Framework) for improvement in the organisation of the social, structural, and economic development of communities. It involves various disciplines and includes aspects of urban planning, transportation planning, and land use management. It can take place on various levels – local, national, or international. The focus of modern spatial planning is to encourage sustainable development. The latter is development that minimises the environmental impact whilst meeting the needs of current and future communities. As such, it also entails the distribution and use of resources to ensure equal distribution amongst the communities in a specific region, province, or country. What Is Land Use Management? In the simplest of terms, it is the regulation of... read more

Urban Planning

What Is the Role of Modern Urban Planning in South Africa? Urban planning entails the focused design and management of space usage as related to economic activities, physical presence, and social impact of human activities on the particular urban environment. Urban planning involves professional urban planners, policy makers, engineers, land surveyors, architects, attorneys, public relations officers, and more. It also involves public participation, as the communities affected by urban planning policies and goals have the right to make objections and be involved in how their spaces are developed. Urban planning covers open land and land already in use. It covers the setting of development goals, the collection of relevant data for decision-making regarding development, the analysis thereof, projections, public participation, and the implementation of plans. It is both a political and technical process whereby the land use is planned as related to water, infrastructure, soil, minerals, and air directly related to the town or city environment. It includes the planning of communication, networks, transportation, service delivery, and more. It also includes the creation of plans based on the available resources and infrastructure. Considerations include the need for sanitation, transport, education, healthcare, religion, and housing infrastructure. Urban planning can thus not be seen as a standalone activity, since the infrastructure and activities mentioned affect all areas of human living in built-up city environments. The physical layout and infrastructure associated with human activities and settlements are the focus points of urban planning. The main objectives are to ensure quality of life, public wellbeing, economic activity, and resource management. Urban design or spatial planning is closely related to urban planning. The orderly... read more

Strategic Development Planning

Modern-Day Strategic Development Planning Challenges in South Africa More than 3,3 billion people live in towns and cities around the world and it is expected that more than 5 billion citizens will live in urban areas a decade from now. Therefore, in future, most structural growth will take place around cities. You just have to look at the challenges that South African cities face to understand the importance of strategic development planning for sustainable urban areas of the future. A trend that has become rather noticeable over the past few years and that is a pressing concern for professionals involved in strategic development planning is the growth of megacities. What do we mean? Think Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Midrand, and you will have an idea of how cities grow into each other, thus creating megacities. The same is true when thinking of the Western Cape. Not too many years ago, there were fewer than 12 such megacities worldwide. Such cities had populations of more than a million each. However, it is estimated by the United Nations that by the year 2030, there will be more than 490 such cities with populations of one million or more each. One of the strategic development planning challenges of today is to minimise the environmental footprint of such large cities. In addition, the large-scale poverty often experienced in such cities because of high unemployment rates, as experienced in South Africa, leads to various social, economic, and political conflict situations. More and more poor people find their way to cities in South Africa. These people mainly come from rural areas. With limited infrastructure and environmental... read more

Urban Development

Smart Cities Are the Future of Urban Planning and Development Urban development entails all the elements of design that lead to the creation of the city’s environment and structure. As such, urban development design affects the following: • Buildings • Streets • Landscape • Transport • Public spaces In the simplest form, urban design coordinates and combines the above and other elements into a coherent development, which can be called a city or town. It is what civilizations have done from the earliest of times. When it comes to smart city or smart urban development, innovative approaches are followed to bring the elements together. Smart urban development is not only focused on design to reduce traffic congestion. Instead, it is an approach to urban development to ensure the sustainability of all structures, resource usage, and healthy living and interaction with the surrounding environment. The essential components of smart urban design and development are briefly discussed below, giving you a glimpse into the future urban environments of the world. Research & Analytics Without all the relevant data, the smart city is simply not possible. The smart urban environment collects data with the use of technology. The problem is how to use the data to improve the urban environment. You need to identify problems such as too many cyclist injuries or too slow reaction times of emergency response teams. Now that you know which problems to solve, the next challenge is to make sense of the data collected. This is the analysis phase. The smart city development concept also entails the collection of data about everything that forms part of city... read more

Land Use Management

The Value of a Land Use Management Plan for Future Sustainability The land use management plan is the master plan that is used to guide the future use of land in a specific area and the actions of the community on that piece of land. In general, the land use management plan is the vision of the future of a community in a particular area. It is about the long-term goals, as well as objectives, related to the activities under local government control. The plan includes guidelines for decision-making regarding property development plans, whether such are for private or public properties. It also gives the guidelines for using public funds. The comprehensive plan includes guidance on cooperation efforts regarding important issues including, for instance, the preservation of agricultural land or renovation of run-down inner city sectors. The land use management plan serves to give direction regarding future activities related to land use. It can be a five-year, ten-year, or twenty-year plan. What is important is that the land use management plan must be reviewed at least every five years and either scraped because it is no longer relevant or is not working, or adapted to stay on course regarding an overall twenty-year land use vision. Such a plan has several important functions, as briefly described below. Providing Permanence to Plans Continuity of actions in order to reach a long-term goal is essential. The land use management plan makes it possible to ensure that successive local government bodies can work within a set framework to address specific issues related to land usage. Balancing Interests No doubt, competing interests can cause... read more

Due Diligence Property Development

Why Perform Due Diligence Before You Commence with Property Development? With any property development, the purchase of land with the intention of developing it or for improvement on a development property, you need to perform due diligence checks. This is important before you buy, propose, or start with property development. The Purpose of the Checks The due diligence helps you to plan costs, assess the viability of the particular piece of land for the purpose you intend to use it for, and prevent the discovery of unforeseen hazards or limitations later on in the development process. For instance, have you looked at what the land was used for in the past? If not, you may end up building a residential estate on an old graveyard. It may not seem like a problem, but if that graveyard belongs to a community who intends to initiate a land claim on the property because of the graves of their ancestors, you may end up losing the property after all the development costs have already been paid. What Can You Discover? Think of issues such as underground utilities that can hinder your ability to erect buildings on the property. What if the site is polluted with a chemical that can cause health problems for occupants of the particular development? Have you considered the potential flood risk or the possibility of a landslide? What if you want to develop a new fuel station on the land, but later find out that the property you bought cannot be used because of protected species that live on or near the property? Why You Need Professional Assistance... read more

Town Development Planning

Challenges for Town Development Planners in South Africa Town development planning entails control over the current development and new developments, in addition to the strategic plan for the management of resources to meet the community’s future needs. It is a dynamic process that changes, as the community’s town development needs change. Town planners play an integral role in town development planning, as they draft the strategies and work closely with communities to ensure a balance in the human, socio-economic, and environmental development of an area. They must consider cultural influences, environmental health, human health, community needs, economic viability, and overall quality of life when they perform town development planning activities. The idea is to develop the urban landscapes in the correct relation to the size of the population, thus ensuring that the various needs of the communities can be met. As town development planning cannot be done in isolation, the town planners work closely with other professionals, such as land surveyors, quantity surveyors, engineers, developers, environmental specialists, lawyers, economists, architects, and politicians. Urban areas are rarely designed from scratch, as most of the towns and cities in the country have already been established. One of the challenges that town development planning professionals face is to address changing community needs in towns and cities developed in the past for societies of the past. Rapid urbanisation today has brought new challenges. The influx of people from other countries in the world in the hope to make a living in the cities has also brought about challenges. Water resources and supply services in various cities in South Africa are simply not sufficient... read more

Integrated Development Plan

What Is the Integrated Development Plan? An Integrated Development Plan, also known as an IDP, is a five-year plan used to identify the development needs of a particular municipality. It is drafted by the local government. All projects in the Integrated Development Plan must be completed with the municipality’s budget. The Integrated Development Plan is reviewed every year to make provision for changes that have taken place during the 12 months prior to review and to ensure that the plan can be adapted to ensure that the municipality stays on course in achieving the objectives of the five-year plan. The annual review is also necessary to establish the relevancy of projects. Some projects may no longer be viable and must then be scraped from the IDP. The priorities of projects are also set during the annual review process. The annual review is concluded after full public participation has been achieved. The process provides citizens with the opportunities to object to developments and to bring attention to developmental needs that they feel should receive priority. The municipality has a limited budget and as such, not every priority project can form part of the Integrated Development Plan. To cater for important projects for which funds are simply not available in the budget, the wards receive specific amounts that must be spent in their wards to address the developmental needs in their specific communities. Public participation is important and the citizens also have opportunities to participate by means of communication through ward councillors and committees. To understand the role and importance of the IDP, one has to understand what is seen as... read more

Town Planning

What is the Role of Town Planning in the Development of Sustainable Urban Areas? The recent drought experienced across large parts of South Africa has once again highlighted the importance of responsible resource management. Town planning plays an integral role in ensuring the best usage of the available water resources, adequate sewage systems, storm water drainage, energy infrastructure development, and communication networks. Failure on the front of resource management and planning can lead to dissatisfaction for a large part of the population of a city. One cannot ignore the concerns related to clean air, potable water, population density management in specific areas of the urban area, and socio-economic needs of the urban area’s population. To ensure that the cities of South Africa can handle the rapid growing population of city dwellers, it is essential to involve various town planning experts. Sustainable town planning entails planning to ensure sustainable development and as such, development that ensures that the needs of communities of present are met without negatively affecting the future generation’s ability to meet their needs in future. Such town planning is not done in isolation of other professions. Indeed, collaboration amongst professionals such as architects, town and urban planners, scientists, engineers, biologists, and environmental specialists is essential to ensure that the objectives of sustainability can be reached. Governments, NGOs, and the local governments must also be involved and in support of such town planning to ensure that the sustainable development goals can be reached. Practical approaches must be followed regarding resource usage, human settlements, land use management, and more. Green building codes must be in place and private sector... read more

Strategic and Integrated Spatial Planning

The Smart Approach in Urban Design Forming Part of Strategic and Integrated Spatial Planning The world is changing fast. Issues such as climate change, rapid urbanisation across the globe, water scarcity, shortage of housing, immigrants, and shifting populations are all factors that must be considered in strategic and integrated spatial planning. Strategic and integrated spatial planning takes place at the upper levels of land use management planning. However, at the ground level, urban planning must be done in consideration of the broader strategic and integrated spatial planning goals on national level. To effectively address the changing urban landscape and needs of its dwellers, it is essential to balance the various environmental, political, social, technological, and economic inputs. It cannot be done without a clear long-term vision, the financial support of private and government role players, and exceptionally strong leadership. It has become important to adopt a smart approach regarding urban planning as part of strategic and integrated spatial planning. City planners and leaders should collaborate to ensure that best practices are followed in city planning. Part of this process entails using the technology available to put the needs of the people first. Design plays an integral role in the improvement of cities. The increase in land invasions and protests about affordable housing closer to work in South Africa are examples of how decisions related to strategic and integrated spatial planning from the past can affect the current and future wellbeing of residents in such cities. The central parts of Cape Town, for instance, become extremely expensive to live in. The job opportunities are closer to the city centre, but... read more

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