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The impact of land assembly for social housing development on spatial restructuring: case study of the Aloe Ridge social housing project in Msunduzi Municipality.

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Determined to untangle the spatial conundrum orchestrated by the Apartheid government, the African National Congress (ANC) led a myriad of government instituted programmes to address the spatial inequality that continued to subjugate low-income class communities and left them in intolerable living conditions within urban centres. The Social Housing Programme was envisioned as one of the promising measures with which to address the lack of low-cost rental stock. This programme was furthermore viewed as a facilitator of spatial restructuring by enabling the marginalised and spatially deprived communities’ access to prime housing locations and afford tenants access to commercial and social opportunities. Discourse on the effectiveness of the Social Housing Programme in tackling spatial restructuring within urban centres has amassed over the last ten years, however, propelled by the limited impact that social housing projects have had as a social mobility tool to uplift the poor. The research sought to analyse the factors impeding the ability of the Social Housing Programme to fulfil one of the core mandates of the state; to reverse the spatial imbalances engineered during the Colonial and Apartheid periods. The research utilised a mega social housing project, the ‘Aloe Ridge Social Housing’ project located in Pietermaritzburg, to assess the limitations of the Social Housing Programme. The research utilised the Right to the City concept, Location and Smart Growth theories as the foundation for the provision of adequate housing to comprehend the intricate systems of locational choice of the housing projects and to map potential solutions to address the urban centres’ inefficiencies. The study approached data collection and analysis by employing a mixed-method approach. It utilised respondents from the Aloe Ridge Social Housing project and key informants from the public sector responsible for housing and planning to measure the outcome of the project. The outcome of the data collect ion noted the positive attributes of social housing in the provision of suitable housing to the low-income community, however, the spatial analysis indicated minimal integration with the main commercial nodes, while the land market and grant limitations hindered the acquisition of suitable land for housing. The study recognised the importance of supporting inclusionary housing to improve housing access, while advocating for the review of restructuring guidelines, subsidy readjustment and introduction of incentives and penalties to stimulate the land assembly process.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.