Johannesburg inspired to enhance land use planning after hosting C40 workshop

By: MMC Funzela Ngobeni, Member of the Mayoral Committee for Development Planning, City of Johannesburg

At the end of September, the City of Johannesburg was honoured to host the first ever C40 Land Use Planning Network Workshop. Bringing together senior officials from 15 cities around the world, the workshop addressed a number of very important topics related to land use planning challenges and policies.

Within Johannesburg, we are actively working to address the legacy of disparity that spatial planning wrought through our history of Apartheid, and are now implementing a number of policies and initiatives to knit back together the urban fabric of our city. We are providing more and better access to public transportation through our transport corridors, increasing employment centres throughout our city to expand job opportunities and building new housing to address the needs of our current and growing population.

Our new administration is committed to ensuring a discipline of planning that addresses the needs of all city residents, while also integrating sustainability and resilience issues. The administration will foster a place for city officials to bring much needed innovation in planning initiatives. At the centre of these initiatives is the role of our Development Planning Department and the land use plans and policies that facilitate redevelopment.

As the workshop convened senior urban planners from C40 cities from six continents, it reinforced for us the important role planners are taking in tackling our collective challenges and the importance of learning from our other member cities.  The contents of the workshop provided solutions to addressing challenges including: how Quezon City is upgrading their informal housing, how Barcelona is integrating adaptation priorities of the city into land use planning decisions, how Auckland’s new Unitary Plan is working to integrate and simplify planning policies for politicians and how cities can densify, engage the private sector and generally accelerate the delivery of more livable, economically vibrant, compact, connected and inclusive cities.

After hosting a workshop that introduced us to new ideas and strategies we hope to implement in Johannesburg, we are even more invigorated to continue to learn and share strategies between the other network member cities. The workshop marked an important starting point for us to more quickly advance our land use planning priorities through the network.