A World Town Planning day commemoration conference was presented by UKZN’s School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) in partnership with eThekwini Municipality, the South African Council for Planners (SACPLAN) and the South African Planning Institute (SAPI KZN).

Every year on 8 November, Town Planners around the world celebrate the day presenting an opportunity to look at planning from a local and global perspective and celebrate the profession’s achievements as well as showcase planning evolution.

The conference was aimed at reshaping the role of planners in driving spatial transformation and giving information and support to BEDS students.

The conference – themed: The Making of Modern African Cities – Quest for Radical Spatial Transformation – also attracted a number of senior planning officials from both the private and public sectors.

Dean and Head of the School Professor Ernest Khalema noted that ‘planners must make contributions to the land debate,’ further highlighting the role of planners in South Africa’s projected new land policy.

UKZN lecturer Dr Koyi Mchunu argued that ‘planners need to focus on space co-production where the formal and informal can co-exist in a co-ordinated manner.’

Mr Musa Mbele of eThekwini Municipality noted that ‘informality is part of our struggle but it cannot be accepted as a norm.’

UKZN Academic Leader of Housing and Planning and one of the conference organisers Dr Hangwelani Magidimisha-Chipungu said planners needed to design tailor made cities. ‘Planners must respond to people’s needs. In responding to their needs, we cannot remain ignorant of apartheid town planning which continues to haunt us. Apartheid planning was purposely designed to exclude people and it continues to do so despite our efforts to intervene.’

Words and photograph: Nkululeko Mbatha