The urban development boundary as a planning tool for sustainable urban form : implications for the Guateng city region
Pekelharing, Elizelle Juaneé
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Urban development boundary concept, Sustainable development, Environmental management, Spatial planning, Sustainable urban form, Gauteng city region. The aim of this research was to determine a sustainable urban form for the Gauteng city region, by means of the urban development boundary (UDB). Current urban settlement formation in the developing urban areas of South Africa tends to be very poor in terms of quality, service provision and standards. These environments have very little chance of developing into vibrant, enriching and efficient urban environments (Behrens & Watson, 2000:iii). While the reasons for poor environmental quality are undoubtedly diverse and complex, having political, economical and social dimensions, it is argued that the prevailing approach to layout planning in South Africa is part of the problem. This study aims to develop an alternative approach that is more appropriate and likely to produce spatial layout and development plans with the ability to initiate urban environments of quality and sustainability. This study is a guide and stimulus, providing suggestions and ways to address the current problems by means of development proposals that will enhance urban sustainability and ensure a sustainable urban form for the Gauteng city region. There are important elements and forces that determine the success or failure of a sustainable metropolitan region, also applicable to the findings of this study. For purposes of this study, the following elements will be evaluated and studied against a planning perspective: urban form, environmental management and spatial planning. 1.1 Urban Form Urban form was developed and transformed ever since formal planning evolved within the urban environment. However, urban areas change, grow and develop in a certain form, subject to forces, impacts, needs and preferences of residents. The research is seeking ways to develop a sustainable urban form for metropolitan areas in developing countries, based on the findings of the Gauteng city region case study. For purposes of this research, it is important to understand the different urban forms, how they developed, and what the main driving force behind them was. The concept of the Garden City was the first concept of the ideal city (Hall & Ward, 1998:5). This concept, as well as similar other sustainable urban growth concepts, will guide the proposed sustainable urban form. These models are an example of sustainable urban form in terms of enhancing the quality of the urban environment, integrating the environmental elements into the urban areas and adding meaning to city centres. Various concept models will therefore be evaluated to determine a sustainable concept and urban form for metropolitan areas in developing countries. The planning tools that manage and control the urban form are also a core issue. The urban edge and the urban development boundary are two planning tools that are currently manifesting within the urban environment. These two concepts have different approaches in terms of definition, demarcation, implementation and success towards achieving sustainable urban form. 1.2 Spatial planning Space is often at a premium in city centres. The dominance of the European vision of compact cities as ideal places to live and experience the vitality and variety of urban life, has been questioned by Jenks et a/., (1996). This question forms a relevant part of this research, as the most appropriate ideas from the developed world guide, shape and control the future of cities in the developing world. Concentrating urban functions offers considerable advantages when it comes to developing powerful urban networks: it stimulates the efficient use of space and puts a brake on mobility, especially when the new centre is near a traffic hub. The differences between the concepts of compact urban form for Europe and Africa have to be explored. These concepts of the compact city and sustainable urban forms have changed and evolved over the past two decades and a number of them have relevance to developing countries. Spatial planning must therefore ensure effective implementation of the proposed concepts, in order to achieve sustainable urban form within the metropolitan areas. 1.3 Environmental management From a town planning perspective, environmental management is one of the core elements driving sustainable development. Living within the environment implies achieving equity and social justice, and inclusiveness in decision-making processes. In developing countries, where there is an enormous range of people, cultures and economies, the size of the problem is immense and growing fast. Nevertheless, there are a number of points of comparison between the international developed countries and the local situation of developing countries. Compactness appears to be an aspiration and a hoped-for solution to the problems of the explosive growth of urban areas, as mentioned in the previous section (1.2), and spatial planning, especially in terms of the intensification of many sub-centres within a metropolitan region. Compactness does not mean an intensified urban area, but rather a thoroughly planned area where open green spaces are as much an integral part of the urban core-, as the spatial elements. The integration of the two core magnets in the urban area (spatial planning and environmental management) needs to be explored in terms of developing sustainable urban form. This also implies that an interface is needed between Integrated Environmental Management plans and Integrated Development plans, to ensure sustainable development.