National planning in South Africa: a temporal perspective

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 11
  • Abstract:

    English: This article aims to provide a temporal and critical perspective on national spatial planning since the 1970s until the most recent directive in 2012. From the first spatial policy initiative, the National Physical Development Plan (1975), radical changes have occurred in the various approaches to national planning. The most recent spatial planning directive in South Africa is the National Development Plan (2012), which has a diversified approach with political, social and economic goals. In the past four decades, national planning policy and directives have moved through balanced and unbalanced regional growth approaches. The top-down approach of the 1970s with rigid area-specific directives transformed into a bottom-up more adaptable, socially oriented and interpretation-based approach in recent years. In the process, South Africa’s spatial policy has evolved from a policy dominated by political objectives in the 1960s to a multi-sectoral policy which purports to be based only on economic principles of a multi-sectoral free-market system; from one of strong government intervention to one of minor intervention. The general perception of this article is that only some of these policies are substantially attributed to effective socio-economic development due to the lack of spatially focused initiatives.