Originally posted by (User Above)
I have worked as a Town Planner in both private pactice and national government, during which time I used to wonder why so much rhetoric about densification of our built environment. I recently joined a Local Council as Principal Planner and now I have insight as to some of the problems that professional planners face. Because of the history of South Africa, the poor (who are mainly black)have been confined to the urban fringe. In an attempt to reorganize the cities to promote the use of public transport, effeciently utilize land and resources and shorten trips, politicians and planners all agree that the best way forward is through densification, which may entail infil development requiring rezoning and or subdivision. The irony of the matter is the areas that require densification are the areas occupied by the rich and vocal. Each application to sudivide erven that are in these areas is met with great ferocity and supported by poorly researched arguments that, for example, argue a direct relationship to densities and crime levels, property values, visual impact and obviously the arguments raised by the "Privacy Brigade". To that end, the Local Councils are left with no options but to densify more in the crowded poor areas (up to erven of 65 square meters) and refuse densification in rich areas where plot sizes of 4 000 square meters are jealously protected. How can we go about curbing urban sprawl when we use the argument that a proposed erf size is out of character with the neighbourhood? How far can we protect individual "privacy" in an urban context and at the same time curb urban sprawl? What could possibly be the historical significance if any, of large erven (save to illustrate in effecient planning of the past) and is it desirable to have such large plots? (especially when the property owner wants to subdivide but the neghbours cant allow it).