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14 Chapter 11 Conclusion

14 Chapter 11 Conclusion

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Sustainable Neighbourhoods Design Manual - produced by the Sustainability Institute 2009/2010
Sustainable Neighbourhoods Design Manual - produced by the Sustainability Institute 2009/2010

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Published by: Sustainable Neighbourhoods Network on Nov 29, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Challenge of CreaTing SuSTainable human SeTTlemenTS
In South Arica
we have a plethora o good legislation and policies which govern urban planning,housing, energy, water, sanitation, solid waste, transport and other aspects o settlements. But thesecomplex and sometimes overlapping rameworks are dicult or councillors and ocials to comprehend,and a veritable policy gridlock tends to obscure rather than acilitate sustainable solutions. This manual thus ocuses on practical and tangible sustainable development solutions that are in line withexisting legislation and policy. In most sectors the challenge is not policy development but implementationand innovation in practice at municipal level.However, there are serious constraints that need to be acknowledged and addressed. Short-term thinkingthat neglects longer-term social and environmental impacts, and entrenched traditional approaches tourban design and planning prevent the implementation o progressive policies and sustainable solutions.Many municipalities are also struggling to become nancially viable, and only survive with signicant nationalsubsidies. In certain instances the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) restricts their ability toinnovate and operate optimally. Then there is the general lack o interdepartmental and intergovernmental communication and collaboration. This leads to decisions being made in isolation, with negative impacts on other departments and developmentprojects. Integrated development planning as required by law is seldom truly integrated, and rarely leads tointegrated development and implementation in practice. The National Department o Housing’s Breaking New Ground is a good example o progressive policybased on the key development principles o integration and sustainability. But the challenge is or provincialdepartments and municipalities to put this policy into practice in the design and construction o sustainablehuman settlements. This manual is designed to help support the meeting o this challenge.
ChapTer 11
page 171
page 172
Learning and Development are Essential
It is imperative that councillors, municipal ocials and their contracted agents understand the new policies, andcooperate in developing new approaches to urban planning and upgrading, in partnership with communitiesand community-based organisations. This will require a clear, shared vision, political will and the commitmentand participation o all stakeholders at local level in appropriate processes.New and innovative approaches will require signicant learning, and the development o new ways o working,rom writing terms o reerence based on integration and sustainability to clearing bureaucratic obstacles andaccessing innovative unding options. Municipalities will need clear policies on development acilitation, and theywill need to develop and contract the capacities required to acilitate sustainable settlement development.
Principles or Designing Sustainable Settlements
 The rst principle is to understand settlements as living and evolving human communities, and not just acollection o physical structures that can be erected and orgotten. The built environment should providea suitable ‘body’ or the lie processes, social interaction and development o the soul and spirit o thecommunity and its individual members and amilies.Sustainable settlement planning should create a built environment that supports sustainable livelihoods andliving in well-designed and integrated social, economic and environmental contexts. The ollowing principlesshould guide the holistic planning o such settlements. Key components include good urban and housingdesign, integration o built and natural environments, sustainable technologies, methods and materials, andcommunity participation in development processes.
 Appropriate Densication
 Though many applicants or subsidised housing want stand-alone units, the cost and scarcity o well-locatedland and escalating transport costs makes this option increasingly unsustainable in larger towns and cities.Urban sprawl also creates ineciencies in service provision, and reduces valuable agricultural land andpotential green open spaces. Mixed-use development corridors with increased density can provide ecientpublic transport, local economic opportunities and varied services in residential areas.Proper and progressive land planning and management are needed to provide land or ormal settlements,or properly designed and managed inormal settlements, and to curb land invasions and overcrowdedsettlements on unsuitable, un-serviced and oten unserviceable land such as food plains.
Integration and Mixed-Use Development
Neighbourhoods are enriched by the integration o dierent social groups and income levels. Physical andunctional integration include provision o essential services within walking distance to limit the need ormotorized transport, integration o private and public spaces and o the built and green environment. Mixed useallows and encourages multiple activities, including living, working, trading, accessing services, appropriate
page 173
structures and recreation in the same areas, as opposed to the old single-use zoning approaches. This isessential to support the inormal economy and local economic development.
Sustainable Technologies
Sustainable technologies covered in this manual include renewable energy options and particularly solar waterheating, which provides long-term energy and cost savings and lessens environmental impacts. In recognitiono this, Eskom now provides a 15 to 20% (o cost) subsidy on solar water heating systems. Low and no-cost energy ecient designs can also enhance natural warming and cooling o homes, thereby reducing thehomeowner’s electricity costs and the load on Eskom. Other sustainable technologies and design applicationsthat are practical and cost-ecient include: north orientation, roo overhangs, ceilings, insulation, CFL bulbs,water eciency technologies, rain and stormwater retention and harvesting.Many o these solutions save on inrastructure costs and support urban agriculture and greening. Localcomposting and reuse o organic materials reduces waste transportation, landll airspace and enricheslocal soils. Sustainable waste management that involves waste reduction, recycling and reuse needs to besupported by appropriate acilities and community education and organization in order to reduce pollution,conserve resources and care or the environment. Sustainable waste management that involves communitiesalso provides signicant opportunities or local work and income generation, as demonstrated in Curitiba, asustainable city in Brazil.
Sustainable Materials
Sustainable materials represent an exciting area o innovation involving a mix o traditional methods andnew technologies. Examples include the use o local natural materials, recycled building materials and soilstabilization (rather than removal and replacement). These materials and methods all lower transport costsand environmental impacts, reduce waste and oten have signicant cost advantages.
Sustainable Economics
Many sustainable options can be supported by special housing and project subsidies. Such investmentssave money in the long-term, which becomes evident when lie-cycle and ull-cost accounting are applied,and include the externalized costs o environmental damage. In the past decade such potential costs haveescalated exponentially as global warming drives climate changes that threaten increasing and unprecedentednatural disasters.The Clean Development Mechanism as an international carbon credit exchange providesan innovative source o unding or renewable energy and energy eciency projects such as the KuyasaLow-income Urban Housing Energy Upgrading Project in Khayelitsha.
Local Economic Development
Local economic development is essential to reduce poverty. Many sustainable construction andmaintenance methods are labour-intensive and provide local work and income, skills development and

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