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Home » April 2011 » Gauging Urban LandMark's impact over the last five years

Urban LandMark's incremental tenure approach

According to Kamini Pillay, Development Planning and Urban Management with the City of Johannesburg, the project with the City resulted in an enhanced understanding of land tenure and land markets.

"The approach to incrementally securing tenure can be attributed in great part to the work that Urban LandMark has conducted, and shared with the City, to date.

The direct downstream impact will be to "provide residents of identified informal settlements with healthier living environments, security of tenure, enhanced identity and belonging in the City, as well as improved access to housing micro-finance and basic social services and amenities".

"Conceptual learning is still under way in the institution - however, the contribution from Urban LandMark has provided a sound information base from which to start."

Support to the City of Johannesburg

In terms of providing support to the City of Johannesburg as part of its Formalisation and Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme, Urban LandMark's technical support on land registration and tenure aspects was very well received.

The change in approach involved using a fast-track mechanism in the form of an amendment to town planning schemes, improved co-ordination within city government - particularly between the departments responsible for development planning, housing and infrastructure - and a more systematic programming of budgets for informal settlement.

The outcome was the legal regularisation of a significant number of settlements, the allocation of capital budgets for settlement upgrading, the provision of some form of tenure security (e.g. certificate of occupation), and incentives to invest in their own dwellings.

Philip Harrison, until end-2009 with the City of Johannesburg as Executive Director: Development Planning and Urban Management, reflects on Urban LandMark's role in providing ongoing support with the development of a new approach to the regularisation of informal settlements.

"The project was particularly significant in that the new approach was formally approved by the City Council. ...the assignment succeeded in significantly shifting the approach of the City of Johannesburg on informal settlement upgrading towards an approach that allows for legal recognition of informal settlements. ...at the end of 2009, around 20 settlements had been regularised through amendments to the town planning schemes."

Harrison is of the view that Urban LandMark's contribution could well extend beyond work in Johannesburg.

"Urban LandMark did not initiate this new approach but worked closely with city officials in developing and refining it. It provided valuable advice on matters such as the instruments for providing tenure security. Importantly, it also documented the development of this approach and propagated the approach at various events nationally - which could potentially play a significant role in approaches adopted by other spheres of government and municipalities. Because of Urban LandMark the 'Joburg approach' is coming to inform thinking nationally..."

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