Urban Renewal in South African Cities

  • Ruth MasseyEmail author
Part of the GeoJournal Library book series (GEJL)


Urban renewal is taking place globally and forms a high profile and significant part of urban policy, planning, and practice. Since the start of South Africa’s democracy in 1994 cities have actively been pursuing urban renewal projects as a response to decades of neglect and decay, unjust and inadequate planning practices, and poor decision-making and leadership. These interventions have taken on both pro-poor and pro-growth approaches with varying degrees of success. This chapter provides a brief history of urban renewal internationally and gives a snap shot of the literature and research that has broadly been done on the topic. It then discusses the urban renewal methods used in South African cities and the impact they have had on these urban spaces. Area-based renewal, township renewal, and informal settlement upgrading are explored as part of a pro-poor approach to renewal while gentrification, inner city renewal, and leisure and tourism-based renewal are discussed as pro-growth responses. The chapter ends with an exploration of social enterprise as a way to combine both pro-poor and pro-growth approaches to urban renewal in South Africa (meeting both social and economic agendas). It uses the case study of The Langa Quarter in Cape Town where social enterprise initiatives have been adopted to renew the area.


Urban renewal South Africa Area-based Townships Inner cities Informal settlements Gentrification Leisure Tourism 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HuddersfieldHuddersfieldUK

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