Journal of Housing and the Built Environment

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 667–678 | Cite as

Inclusionary housing policy: a tool for re-shaping South Africa’s spatial legacy?

Policy and Practice


In South Africa, recent initiatives to restructure cities towards greater compaction and integration include the formulation of an inclusionary housing policy, where private property developers are expected to offer some affordable housing in their developments. This paper examines policy and practice in the City of Johannesburg where an inclusionary housing policy is intended to work together with a growth management strategy to direct infrastructural investment. However the policy has hardly been used. The paper examines the policy and its development, initiatives to use it, and the challenges it faces. Key constraints include: resistance by the property development industry and middle/upper-income residents; South Africa’s huge income inequalities and hence housing price cliffs; and institutional and legal issues. These concerns have in part underpinned the lack of supportive national policy. In this context, local policies have been confined to specific, deal-driven projects, but these have also been fraught with problems, and have delivered few affordable units. The potential of inclusionary housing policy for reshaping South African cities therefore seems limited, although it could play a small role if national policy with careful attention to implementation were formulated. An alternative form of mixed income developer-led housing seems to have greater potential, although it is focused on low/middle-income housing and relies to a significant extent on government subsidies, in contrast to inclusionary housing proper.


Inclusionary housing Johannesburg Value capture Spatial segregation South African cities Urban restructuring 



The valuable inputs and insights of people interviewed for this project are gratefully acknowledged. Thanks to Mitchel Hawkins and Miriam Maina for mapping. This material is based upon work supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa. Any opinion, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and therefore the NRF does not accept any liability in regard thereto.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Architecture and PlanningUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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