Borders of Precincts: Unpacking the Politics of White Neighbourhood Identities in the Post‐Apartheid Black City (Johannesburg)
The relationship between a middle income white precinct in Melville and the post-apartheid predominantly black city of Johannesburg are still seen as separate entities. This poses a threat to the democratic production of space in a post-apartheid city like Johannesburg. Through a city-funded, “bottom-up” approach, the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) funded a Community Participatory Design (CPD) project known as the Melville Precinct Plan, in which the Melville Residents Association (MRA) have voiced a different opinion about the way that the urban is envisioned in relation to the Strategic Area Framework (SAF) set out by the City of Johannesburg. The city of Johannesburg’s planning policies and its urban development projects aggressively address the concerns of the post-apartheid city which segregated people by race and today the long lasting dire effects of spatial inequality are still experienced by the marginalised. The “Corridors of Freedom” scheme is a special project which was initiated by the Mayor Parks Tau a few years ago and aims to re-stitch city back together again. Amongst many other policies which echo the same anti-apartheid values, the SAF exhibits progressive socio-economic place-making strategies and is mainly focused along three main transport corridors around Johannesburg. The Empire-Perth corridor connects Johannesburg Central Business District (CBD) and the township of Soweto and along this corridor, on the border of the CBD, Melville is a white middle income neighbourhood which was commissioned by the JDS to undergo a CPD for a new vision of the precinct to support the Corridors of Freedom Project. However, the project received resistance from the MRA due to the imposing effects of urban densification on the precinct. Some of the questions we ask in this paper are: why does the MRA disagree with the Metropolitan Development Framework? To what extent does race and fear play a part in the argument? How do we make a sustainable and equitable post-apartheid city? What are the values of government, how do they relate to policies and how does they filter down to municipal level and make a difference on the ground to communities on an urban level? (Marinova and Hossain, 2013, p. 347).The aim of this paper is to discuss the relationship between this pro-liberal urban development planning project and the responses of a resistant minority group in Johannesburg in 2017. The paper contextualises the post-apartheid city and the pertinent arguments both for and against development. It questions what kind of development is important on the borders of the city, what fears are synonymous with that, but also what is unfair and exclusionary practice? The research will consider the Melville Precinct Plan as a case study, and look at its framing policies and the general outcomes in order to unpack how the borders, peripheries and edges are used politically to undermine generous public participation processes in planning for a new vision for a community.
Citation : Hendricks, D., Martinez Perez, A. (2020) Borders of Precincts: Unpacking the Politics of White Neighbourhood Identities in the Post‐Apartheid Black City (Johannesburg). In: Urbanism at Borders, Abingdon: Routledge (accepted for publication)
Research Institute : Institute of Architecture
Peer Reviewed : Yes