Urban management: the redevelopment of the Mitchells plain town centre | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
janvier 2011
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Mitchells Plain is about 20km from the Cape Town city centre. It was built in the 1970s as a township for people classified as ‘Coloured’, who were forcibly removed from areas that had been declared ‘whites only’ under the Group Areas Act. Various attempts were made to upgrade the Mitchells Plain Town Centre (MPTC) after the advent of democracy in 1994, but these were disjointed and lacked a champion to drive the process. In 2001, national government launched the Urban Renewal Programme (URP) to address infrastructure deficiencies and declining economies in areas characterised by widespread poverty and neglect.

This study looks at the township redevelopment project of Mitchells Plain centre and makes recommendations for efficiency. Mitchells Plain is a typical example of apartheid spatial planning, which relegated the residents of townships to the margins of economic activity. The area is effectively a dormitory town with a great deal of vacant, unsafe space. Along with a number of adjacent townships established for Africans, Mitchells Plain is isolated from the rest of the city. It is surrounded by geographical barriers and distant from amenities and economic opportunities. It suffers from high levels of poverty, crime and gang violence.

At the time of the 2001 census, 305 343 people were reported to live in Mitchells Plain in 67 746 households. Most lived in houses (65 per cent), 20 per cent lived in town/cluster houses, and about 6 per cent lived in shacks in informal settlements. Afrikaans was the most common home language (50 per cent of households) followed by English (37 per cent) and Xhosa (12 per cent).

The project was targeted at creating a safe, convenient, seamless environment for public transport users, the project team sought to create a safe and pleasant environment for shoppers, to boost informal trading activity in a prime location, to provide opportunities for further retail development, and to generate opportunities for other economic development activities, such as training institutions.

Some of the lesson learnt from this project include building community consensus, sticking with the process, being solution-oriented, getting high-level political buy-in, avoiding a ‘perfect’ plan, being flexible enough to accommodate community needs, constantly revisiting budgets, build good relationships with key officials amongst others.

Auteurs et éditeurs


"Urban LandMark" is short for the Urban Land Markets Programme Southern Africa. Based in Pretoria, the programme was set up in May 2006 with seven years of funding from the UK's Department for International Development until March 2013. The initiative is now hosted at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa.

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