What is the Role of Renewal in Urban Development?

Urban development planning and renewal, with the focus on improvement of the infrastructure, layout and usefulness of city spaces while minimising the effect of human activities on the environment, provide for long-term benefits. The approach enables maximum improvement in the functionality of the spaces to ensure relevance for future generations.

The Role of Urban Renewal in Balanced Development

People live in the boundaries of a city. The keyword here is “live” as they interact with other people that share the same space. Part of this entails usage of the facilities within the city structure. Whether the city is young and vibrant or characterised by its many historical features, it has a certain culture. Well-maintained infrastructure, attractive buildings and pleasant surrounds made possible through the development of green spaces, add to the value proposition.

Rather than demolishing the old buildings to make room for modern facilities as part of urban development, the town planners retain part of the city’s character and history through the usage of the structures and spaces already in place. These structures and spaces, whether buildings or parks, are not destroyed. Instead, developers re-purpose them to create amenities relevant to the current and future needs of the communities within the boundaries of the city.

In essence, provision is made to give old and run-down structures new purposes. Once renovated, renewed or transformed into modern spaces, the structures can serve as academic facilities, government offices, upmarket apartment buildings, etc. This process helps to protect and get the most from resources shared by the communities within the city boundaries.

Transformation from run-down to new and vibrant structures, gives the spaces renewed usefulness. This also helps to reduce urban sprawl, thereby reducing the space needed for human settlement. In this sense, good planning can conserve the environment within and around the city since it reduces the space needed for development.

Just as an old, but valuable and once-appreciated artwork can be restored to its full beauty, prolonging its life, it is possible to renovate old buildings to the same level. However, to keep the old relevant and useful, it is often essential to update their appearance and make changes to their layouts, while also improving their surrounds.

Urban Renewal Improves

Inner-city decay causes people to move out from the core of the business district. Property loses value in a decayed area. To bring value back to an area and stimulate economic development, urban renewal is promoted. Older buildings, ranging from apartment complexes to retail centres and office buildings, can stay relevant. Old manufacturing spaces can be upgraded or changed into retail spaces or sport facilities.

Urban development needs must be kept in mind, additionally, when it comes to renewal projects. However, some properties may have decayed to a level that makes them hazardous. In these instances, the old is taken away to make space for new developments to meet human settlement, economic activity and environmental protection needs.

Redevelopment Addresses Urbanisation Challenges

Well-planned development projects that include the renewal of specific buildings and existing infrastructure benefit surrounding communities, increase investment value, and preserve the available resources. Development in this manner can also improve the safety profile of an area and encourage economic activities.

Rapid urbanisation places tremendous strain on the resources and infrastructure of cities. People need shelters. They create waste, which must be removed. More people in the same city also implies more movement of people as they need to get to and from work, places of worship, shops and schools. This causes traffic congestion. More vehicles on the road implies more air pollution. Sustainable urban development addresses these and related challenges such as the need for upgrading stormwater systems, energy provision, etc.

Ways must be found to reduce traffic congestion and the need to take up more space on the outskirts of the city to house people. Urban renewal means that aged structures are transformed into useful facilities to reduce sprawl. Renewal, moreover, makes it possible to address problems such as inner-city slums, pollution and crime because renewed infrastructure attracts investment.

Expert Help is Available

Careful planning is essential for sustainable urban development. The Practice Group provides expertise and an extensive range of town planning services to developers and municipalities to help realise the vision for sustainable cities throughout South Africa.