As reported in an earlier issue of our newsletter, Urban LandMark in 2010 commissioned Demacon Market Studies to research the nature and impact of shopping mall developments in South Africa's townships and rural areas. The study explored ways in which the positive impacts of these centres - on local consumers, local small businesses and the local economy - could be maximised, and their negative impacts minimised.
Urban LandMark in 2011 also developed a shorter booklet to consolidate a range of research inputs and reflections around retail-led development in 'emerging economy' areas in South Africa. This resource, available online, aims to assist township development practitioners to formulate appropriate solutions to the challenges that face townships in terms of regeneration and development, and residents in terms of access to economic opportunity.
The booklet was launched and distributed, together with seven other case studies on enabling township transformation, to participants of the "Bolstering Township Transformation" workshop, held in collaboration with SA Cities Network and the Neighbourhood Development Programme of national Treasury, and to the Programme's municipal co-ordinators.
The workshop emphasised that the task of township transformation remains both critical and elusive, especially at a time when the pursuit of inclusive growth and social accountability is at the forefront of the policy and development agenda. But what was also recognised was the significant potential of townships as areas of growth, spending power, a future tax base, sources of revenue and areas of innovation.
One of the Neighbourhood Development Programme's approaches for facilitating positive change and development in townships is for municipalities to develop a township regeneration strategy. The aim of such long-term planning is to embed more strategic investment decision-making within the municipality to guide the future development of townships. Such strategies are also envisaged as tools which would ensure public investment becomes less ad hoc and more strategic, and would generate new ways of approaching township planning and development.
All material launched at the workshop is available on Urban LandMark's website.