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A ‘marshall plan’ for human settlements: how mega projects became South Africa’s housing policy

When: Tuesday, 11 April 2017 - Tuesday, 11 April 2017
Where: Braamfontein Campus East
1st Floor Seminar Room, John Moffat Building
Start time:16:00

Dr Richard Ballard, Specialist Researcher at the Gauteng City-Region Observatory will present this talk.

In 2014 the national Department of Human Settlements announced that it would phase out its many small housing projects of a few hundred units.

Henceforth all housing would exclusively be delivered in large settlements of thousands or tens of thousands of units. Shortly afterwards, the Gauteng provincial government announced its own version of the policy, stating that it intended to build dozens of new cities around the province. This talk examines the turn to mega projects within the Human Settlements sector in South Africa.

Three questions will be addressed: Where is the mega projects policy turn articulated?; What are the rationales that feed into this policy direction?; and How has the policy been received? Ballard will show the genesis of this policy direction, its heterogeneous nature and its logics. This policy moment flows from some major experiments in scaled up projects since the 1990s.

These were informed by a desire to ramp up the quantity of housing delivery that had been declining in the years prior to the announcement of the new policy, the appeal of designing entirely new integrated settlements, a drive to invest in deprived areas, and the expectation that large projects can cut through bureaucratic entanglements slowing down smaller projects.

The policy direction has been criticised for presuming to be able to attract economic activity to new settlements and, in the event of failing to be able to do so, exacerbating an already disbursed urban pattern which is difficult to service and that requires workers to commute long distances or renders them unable to find work.

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