Factors Influencing Urban Open Space Encroachment: The Case of Bloemfontein, South Africa

  • Lindelwa SinxadiEmail author
  • Maléne Campbell


Rapid changes in land use and occupancy patterns of urban open spaces have led to value conflicts in terms of the quest for sustainable neighbourhoods. Urban open spaces are becoming extinct due to rapid urbanization, hence affecting the spatial patterns of urban land use. Such gradual disappearance has resulted from intensity of land use for residential, business, and community facilities, among others. This has created challenges in terms of the value and sustainability of open spaces, land use management, and preservation. This study seeks to explore, in its entirety, the incidence of open space encroachment in the Mangaung Township, Free State Province of South Africa. Adopting a case study approach, this study deploys a variety of techniques such as focus group discussions, face-to-face semi-structured interviews, and personal observation for data elicitation at different intervals. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with purposively recruited town planning, land invasion, and environmental management professionals from local and provincial levels of government. Discussants for the focus group discussions consisted of community members who have encroached upon open spaces and those occupying properties around open spaces. Events within the study area were observed at intervals and memos drawn therefrom. The accruing data was analyzed thematically, relying on qualitative content analysis (QCA). The study’s findings, besides the provision of an insight into the drivers of this malaise, chronicles the plethora of strategies which have been adopted and implemented to curtail its continued occurrence, highlights the strengths and weaknesses of these strategies, and proffers recommendations on how to optimally surmount this imbroglio. Findings indicate that the high cost of the available land for housing, poor sustenance and management of the available housing stock by municipality officials, non-participation of community members in planning processes, and poor enforcement of land use regimes remain salient contributors to the preponderance of open space encroachment. This study’s findings hold immense implications for planning practitioners as well as other professionals and policy makers working within the urban planning and socio-economic development praxes both within the province and beyond.


Participation South Africa Strategy Sustainability Urban open spaces 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Built EnvironmentCentral University of TechnologyFree StateSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Urban and Regional PlanningUniversity of the Free StateBloemfonteinSouth Africa

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