Die Vaaldriehoek as verspreide stad
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The Vaal Triangle forms the southernmost section of the PWV Complex, as described in the National Physical Development Plan (1975). The so-called Vaal Triangle consists of five closely spaced urban nodes that seem to function as a single urban system. These urban nodes are the towns of Vereeniging, Meyerton, Vanderbijlpark, Sasolburg and Sebokeng (the regional residential area for Blacks in the Vaal Triangle). The Vaal Triangle spans a provincial boundary (the Vaal River), with Sasolburg situated in the Province of the Orange Free State and the other towns in the Province of Transvaal. Because of the triangular shape of this urbanized area and its location on the Vaal River, it has become known as the Vaal Triangle. The five towns had a population of 480 940 in 1980. Distances between the towns are small, although the towns are physically discrete and separated by land with non-urban uses. The average distance between the Central Business Districts of the towns is fifteen kilometers. The Vaal Triangle plays an extremely important role in regianal and national context, especially in respect of the basic iron and steel industry and the petro-chemical industry. The development of the Vaal Triangle over the past 100 years and the attraction of industry to this area can mainly be attributed to two natural factors. These factors are the occurrenee and exploitation of coal and clay deposits, and the availability of water. Two subsequent factors are the availability of rail transport and electric power. The purpose of this dissertation is to establish whether the group of closely spaced towns knows as the Vaal Triangle constitutes a "dispersed city." In published literature the term dispersed city has been used to refer to a group of urban nodes in close proximity to each other, separated by tracts of non-urban land, and functioning as a single urban entity. If such discrete nodes do in fact constitute an urban entity, the difference in form from the single-centred city will be obvious even to the casual observer. In the conventional city, concentration and centrality would seem to be the basic requirements for urbanity, In the dispersed city it must be demonstrated that urban functions can be separated from each other by non-urban space and at the same time be integrated as an urban unit, Although the term dispersed city is widely used, there are no studies which prove that such functional agglomerations actually exist. However, if functional interdependence of a multi-nodal urban system of the sort described above, can be demonstrated in even one major instance, the concept of the dispensed city as a geographical phenomenon must be considered considerably more plausible than it is now. Section A of the dissertation, which includes chapters one to four, reviews the existing literature on the concept "city", different forms of urban systems and the "dispersed city" in particular. This study serves as background for the compilation of a theoretical model for the dispersed city, The model offers several characteristics whereby a dispersed city can be identified. These characteristics fall under the headings of structure, function and dynamism. Section B, mainly consists of a representation of the practical research that was conducted. Chapter 5 examines physical constraints that may influence urban development in the Vaal Triangle, This chapter also briefly traces the historical development of the towns, A consideration of the development of the Vaal Triangle over a period of time can help to explain the present morphology of the urban region. Past, present and future land use in the area as well as road, rail, water and electricity networks and traffic flow are also analysed and illustrated with the use of maps. Chapter 6 contains an analysis of population numbers and distribution in the area, the occupational structure of the population and a projection of the population of the towns for the year 2 000. It is concluded that if the dispersed city form of urbanism is to exist in the twenty first century 1 population growth and distribution must be considered, Chapters 7, 8, 9 and 10 exam1ne the function of the Vaal Triangle complex through the consideration of various forms of interaction among the towns. Service pattern, shopping patterns. functional specialization patterns, work patterns, manufacturing linkages, social and recreational patterns and patterns of government, are considered. Chapter 11 considers whether or not the "Idea of the City" is a part of the cognition of the area resident; for although the elements and attributes of a "dispersed city" may be present, it can never operate in reality unless there is a consensus about its existence. Chapter 12 consolidates the conclusions derived from chapters 1 through 11 1 STRUCTURE In the study it has been established that: 1.1 .... the study area consists of a group of towns close to one another, separated by tracts of non-urban land with distances small enough for residents to have a choice in the selection of important functions, 1.2 there is no predominant town in the area as far as population size and urban functions are concerned. A dominant town surrounded by satellites would not suit the definition of a dispersed city. 1.3 the towns are linked by a system of communications as complete and technologically advanced as economy can provide. This includes road, rail, telephone and electricity networks. 1.4 the physical limitations that the Vaal River presents to traffic flow between the Transvaal towns and Sasolburg are overcome by three road bridges. Thus, on the basis of structure, the Vaal Triangle meets the criteria for a "dispersed city" as defined in the model. 2. FUNCTION 2.1 .... inter-nodal specialization exists in the study area and is responsible for the intensive movement of people between the towns. Inter-nodal specialization consists of the following: a) Vereeniging is the main shopping centre - specializing especially in clothing, furniture, office equipment, motor spares and textiles, b) Vanderbijlpark is the headquarters for tertiary education in the Vaal Triangle - the campuses of the Potchefstroom University for Higher Christian Education and the Vaal Triangle Technicon are situated on the Vaal River in Vanderbijlpark, These campuses are frequented by White students from all over the Vaal Triangle. c) There is a concentration of recreational facilities on both banks of the Vaal River. This centrally located recreational area is very popular and serves the whole Vaal Triangle, d) The employment fields of the towns in general and that of the metal industry (in Vereeniging, Meyerton and Vanderbijlpark) and the petrochemical Industry (in Sasolburg) in particular, indicate considerable inter-nodal interaction. e) The Vaalweekblad, printed in Vanderbijlpark, serves as a regional newspaper for the whole area, f) Sebokeng is the regional residential area for Blacks in the Vaal Triangle and the headquarters of the Orange-Vaal Administration Board that controls all the Black residential areas in the Vaal Triangle. 2.2 development is guided by a general guide plan for the whole area. The purpose of the guide plan does not imply detailed planning, but the formulation of an overall planning policy which will serve as the framework for further planning action at provincial or local government level, Therefore, on the basis of function, the Vaal Triangle meets the most important specified criteria for classification as a dispersed city. 3. DYNAI\II SM 3.1 There exists intensive human interaction between the towns namely to work, shop, seek higher education, to visit friends and family, and to make use of recreational facilities. The degree of interaction between the towns can be regarded as sufficient to consider the Vaal Triangle a single functional entity. 3.2 The intensive daily traffic flow between the towns is a further indication of functional interdependence and the existence of a dispersed city, 3.3 Although the greatest share of household moves takes place within the town of the movers, moves between the towns of the Vaal Triangle account for one third or more of urban mobility in the area. 3.4 The Vaal Transport Company (bus service for Blacks in the Vaal Triangle) serves all the Black townships in the area and is responsible for intensive interaction with shopping areas and places of work in the White areas and for social visits to other Black townships in the area, 3.5 The "filling-in" of the rural spaces between the towns is taking place, but has as yet not proceeded to the point where the Vaal Triangle can be regarded as one continuous urbanized area that has lost its dispersed character, Therefore, in terms of dynamism, the Vaal Triangle meets the specified criteria for classification as a dispersed city. 4. OTHER CRITERIA 4.1 The pre-dominant role played by industry in the development of all the towns of the Vaal Triangle and the predominance of industrial employment, lend a certain amount of unity to the area. 4.2 The "idea of city" does already exist on the level of local government, but there is as yet no unanimity on this delicate matter. 4.3 Eighty percent of the area residents do not yet confer "city" status on the Vaal Triangle, 5 CONCLUSION The status of a dispersed city can be conferred on the Vaal Triangle if the area is compared with the criteria implicit in the dispersed city model, As yet, residents of the Vaal Triangle dispersed city barely know of its existence and know nothing of its structure and functions. In the light of the continuous "filling-in" of the non-urban areas between the towns, and the Guide Plan's proclaimed, long term development strategy to extend the Vaal Triangle as an emerging independent metropolis (Office of the Prime Minister, 1982, p 52), a step towards accepting the idea of city, surely will result.
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