Municipal Institute Of LearningMILE - Municipal Institute Of Learning
"Breaking the Divides and Transforming Our Local Spaces”: Spatial Equity Learning Exchange
About 65 planners from selected municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal attended the very first learning exchange on Spatial Equity. The Learning Exchange was a partnership between eThekwini Municipality and the KwaZulu-Natal Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (KZNCOGTA) supported by the eThekwini Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE).  In officially opening the Learning Exchange, the Acting Head of Development Planning, Management and Environment reminded us about the huge challenges we face in addressing the apartheid city and entrusted this forum to deliberate and propose implementable and practical solutions to break these divides. 
Setting the scene was keynote speaker, seasoned Planner and Urban Designer, Nathan Iyer of Iyer Urban Design Studios, who provoked the planners on their failure to claim their rightful space in changing the face of our town and cities in KwaZulu-Natal. In his response, to the topic “15 Years of Local Government: What have been the key gaps and opportunities in addressing spatial equity?  Iyer argued that Planners have often focused more on the development of plans and less on the implementation of the Plan. “Planning does not end with a Plan” implementation support and adequate resourcing is crucial for realising the principal outcome of our spatial plans. Iyer also sharply raised the implications of the disconnect between planning and capital budgets and advocated for the location of strategic capital budgets within a planning department. He concluded his address noting the gaps in skills and/or planning education and training of today‘s planners.
Following Iyer ‘s address was a Panel Discussion constituted by a very experienced group of economic, spatial planning and urban design experts from various planning organizations namely, Mandisa Zungu (KZNCOGTA), Anton Aiello (Aiello Consulting) and Glen Robbins (UKZN) who added further complexities  to the topic by challenging today’s planners. Amongst other discussions, was a focus around the lack of bold decision making from planners as a result of their poor consciousness to the critical ideology of planning and, an adequate and strategic interface with political leadership creating a challenging working environment for decision making. The underlying tone of the Day 1 session was that spatial planners have lost track of their major role which is “to take charge of the space”. In attempting to unpack SPLUMA, Ivan Scholtz of KZNCOGTA shared the findings of the SACN Study on KwaZulu-Natal Municipalities on the status quo of spatial planning but also proposed an approach for implementing some of the current tools for improving spatial equity.  EThekwini Municipality spatial planners Helene Epstein and Neela Naidoo shared their approach on implementing a package of plan as the key tool used by the municipality for building spatial equity. A Site Visit to the Cornubia Housing Development and the Bridge City Development took place in the afternoon to expose planners from other municipalities in KZN, to the spatial planning practice in the eThekwini Municipality.
Day 2 of the Learning was a platform to discuss lessons learnt from Newcastle, Ray Nkonyeni, Msunduzi, Umhlatuze and Umngeni on some of their spatial planning projects and how they are  transforming their spaces. The discussion was marked by robust but honest feedback to the presenters on how the municipalities can better improve their current projects.   Mr Tony Markewicz of Markewicz Redman Partnership shared the eThekwini Municipality plan on Bridge City and shared some of the successes and challenges of the area. Sharing the National Treasury Precinct Planning Approach, Markewicz demonstrated how the new approach can be applied to create the right densities, improving connectivity, bring jobs closer to where people live, deliver social facilities and increase flexibility as some of the key outcomes of the city ‘s plan to create spatial equity. 
Tongaat Hullett represented by Mr Bongani Gumede shared the successes and lessons learnt from the Joint Venture with eThekwini Municipality and how the partnership has embedded social equity through the Socio-economic Sustainable and Innovation Programme (SSIP) in Cornubia. The key learning he shared with the planners was that it is important to give people the capacity to do what they should do for themselves. Linda Mbonambi of the Area Based Management Unit shared lots of lessons on how to empower communities in the development and implementation of plans. The session raised a number of questions which stimulated lots of engagement but most importantly directed the agenda for future conversations on this topic.
Alka Ramnath, the President of SAPI summed up the two–day session as a platform for a very honest discussion about real issues confronting us as planners and we should take this as the beginning of a process to clarify some of these complex and statutory requirements.
Download presentations and other related documents below:

 Spatial Equity Learning Exchange

Cornubia Case Study.pdf
02/09/2016 15:20
David Ivan Scholtz.pdf
02/09/2016 15:20
eThekwini Municipality_Cornubia_Learning Exchange combined case study.pdf
05/09/2016 12:13
Kwamashu urban hub.pdf
02/09/2016 15:21
02/09/2016 15:22
The Spatial Transformation of South Africa’s Cities.pdf
02/09/2016 15:21

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