“The field of professional and innovative urban development is in dire danger of disappearing,

…..but not because of a lack of qualified town planners as President Cyril Ramaphosa claims,” says Burgert Gildenhuys, the director of BC Gildenhuys & Associates. “We have more than enough academically qualified town planners; the problem lies with the lack of experience and technical skills and the constricting development policies and legislation which ties the hands of experienced and knowledgeable urban developers to respond appropriately to the problems faced by municipalities.

“We are stuck in a permanent compliance cycle with guidelines and legislation, which leaves no room for creative and innovative local solutions.”

During a Q&A session in Parliament, the President said South Africa does not have enough suitably qualified town planners to help with urban planning.

BC Gildenhuys & Associates published an article in February this year predicting that town and regional planning might be the first profession to disappear in the 21st century due to irrelevance and incompetence.

We summarised the core issues underlying the current state of town and regional planning in South Africa as a lack of technical skills, planning without considering implementation, a non-existent understanding of the implication of actions, too many “advisors,” and an ineffective implementation environment. The full article is available at this link.

“The president can continue announcing ambitious schemes like the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan and spending R100bn on infrastructure projects, but if he continues to listen to people with no idea of the realities of challenges in practice, we will achieve nothing,” says Gildenhuys. “Smart cities are one of the many examples of projects not getting off the ground. We live with the notion that the government can create development, which is not the case. The problem is that the advisors only parrot what political leaders want to hear. That is why we are stuck with a crumbling infrastructure and spatial development plans divorced from reality.”

Burgert Gildenhuys – Director: BC Gildenhuys & Associates