Journal of Housing and the Built Environment

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 629–638 | Cite as

The South African area-based urban renewal programme: experiences from Cape Town

  • Ronnie Donaldson
  • Danie du Plessis
  • Manfred Spocter
  • Ruth Massey
Policy and Practice


In his 2001 State of the Nation address former President Mbeki announced the launch of the Urban Renewal Programme (URP) as an area-based approach which would form part of a 10 years initiative to address poverty and underdevelopment in targeted areas. It had a specific emphasis on improving joint government planning and implementation. Townships were spatially engineered by the architects of apartheid and excluded by design. They are today typified by high levels of poverty and crime. It is in the undoing of these two social malaises that the URP has anchored itself on the policy agenda. The URP focused on eight urban townships in the country as pilots that would pave the way for an urban development strategy on urban renewal to be developed and implemented nationally once the 10 years pilot period elapsed. The paper is a review of lessons learnt and best practices in two anchor URP projects in Cape Town, South Africa.


Area-based approach Spatial targeting Khayelitsha Mitchell’s Plain South African townships Urban renewal programme 



The paper is based on the findings of a study conducted for the URP office at the City of Cape Town. The support from the unit is appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronnie Donaldson
    • 1
  • Danie du Plessis
    • 2
  • Manfred Spocter
    • 3
  • Ruth Massey
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Geography and Environmental StudiesUniversity of StellenboschStellenboschSouth Africa
  2. 2.Centre for Centre for Regional and Urban Innovation and Statistical ExplorationUniversity of StellenboschStellenboschSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of Geography and Environmental StudiesUniversity of StellenboschStellenboschSouth Africa
  4. 4.Department of GeographyUniversity of the Free StateBloemfontein South Africa

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