Workshops to raise questions about an inclusive city

Professor Edgar Pieterse

The debate on affordable housing and inclusiveness in the city has been thrust into the spotlight with the recent Tafelberg case on evictions in Woodstock and Salt River.

Now, Professor Edgar Pieterse who is head of the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at the University of Cape Town, is asking how we recreate and integrate Cape Town.

The question is one of the topics that will be discussed in a series of workshops launched last week.

The workshops have been dubbed “Integration Syndicate” and is expected to continue until next year.

According to Professor Pieterse, “More than two decades after democracy the legacy of spatial segregation persists. The truth is we have no practical idea how to undo and remake the legacy of spatial inequality within the constraints of private property and existing real estate market dynamics.

“Worse, our public policies, although well-intentioned, have exacerbated the problem. Social housing policies have seen low-cost housing built further and further out on the periphery of cities, far from transport nodes, from jobs or other economic opportunities.”

Professor Pieterse said the idea behind the workshops was to create a safe space where discussions will be hosted.

The conversations will be based on maps, information graphics and other data sources that will allow anyone to participate in the debate but also avoid the risks of stand-offs on the basis of ideology alone. The participants will include leaders from the public sector, social movements, NGOs, academia and the private sector.

He said the workshops would also be an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss the Built Environment Performance Plan.

He said this document, which all the major municipalities have, will determine how much is spent on affordable housing. “There is a new government document but the problem is that not many people outside of government know about this document. We will discuss it in these workshops and see which is the best way to move forward.”

He added that various NGOS, including Ndifuna Ukwazi as well as other role-players had been invited to the workshops.

The workshops include topics such as What is integration and can it be achieved within the next generation?; Geo-historical roots of segregation and fragmentation. Can we imagine an alternative city which will lay the basis for a more inclusive future?; What are the economic drivers of inclusion/ exclusion and spatial inequality?; What will it take to achieve inter-generational economic empowerment?; The practical building blocks of integration: a focus on three geographic points that are already on the priority list of the public sector; Two Rivers Urban Park acupuncture point; Philippi transit-oriented development hub acupuncture point; Bellville transit-oriented development hub acupuncture point; Weaving the cases and other sites of opportunity for the next decade (drawing on Voortrekker Road Corridor); Kaapse innovation: Popularising and embedding integration in the public sphere of the city and How to embed the integration in the public realm.

Professor Pieterse said he hoped the discussions would lead to a policy shift on the matter of integration and go some way to reversing apartheid spatial planning.

The workshops are not open to the public but for more information about the African Centre for Cities and the work that Professor Pieterse does, log onto