[DAG’s advocacy work is focused on promoting inclusive and sustainable neighbourhoods. Our lobbying and advocacy strategies on human settlements policies and practice are largely informed by research undertaken in partnership with a wide range of local and international partners.
The participatory research practice with local partners at grassroots level has been instrumental in influencing the current practice in the sector.]

Collaborative Research

Through collaborative research, DAG increases its focus on conducting research intended to gain and promote new knowledge concerning urban land management policies and practices that facilitate access to housing and well-located serviced land for poor and marginalized citizens. This grew from the concern that housing development in South Africa is infinitely constrained by current urban development practice, in particular by land use and land management mechanisms that give rise to practices that are inefficient, unsustainable and exclusionary, such as, urban sprawl and low-density development. DAG believes that rising levels of urbanization, informality and economic inequality can only be addressed through more appropriate land management policies and practices.

One example DAG’s application of collaborative research is shown through the first two weeks of DAG’s socio-cultural and pedestrian movement study which focused on the Parow Station Arcade Precinct and the relationship building with those using the space, that included foreign nationals, taxi-drivers, shop-owners, homeless people, informal traders and pedestrians. We gained valuable insight into the area through the engagement with stakeholders.





Land Value Capture

Innovative approaches to city restructuring and financing

DAG researchers Lené Le Roux and Willard Matiashe were selected to contribute to a publication entitled ‘Innovative Approaches to Urban Pressures’ funded by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency. The research paper reflected on areas where local governments have potential opportunities to diversify and grow their revenue base. The use of innovative property taxation, sophisticated land value capture tools and mechanisms to finance affordable housing, serviced land, and infrastructure more accessible to the urban poor. The research was based on a comparative analysis of principles and techniques that underpin value capture mechanisms used in Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Cape Town (South Africa), focusing on in-depth analysis of their capacity to effect financial sustainability and spatial transformation of the current urban form in South Africa. The analysis primarily focused on the following key ancillary issues:

  • To what extent are the underlying land value capture principles relevant to South Africa’s policy and legislative framework?
  • Could the Brazilian land value capture techniques be embedded in existing South African legislative and policy context on urban development?
  • What financial and spatial transformations could be anticipated from the use of these techniques?

The principal argument advanced in the paper is that interventions in land management and valuation are an urban governance issue as much as a planning issue. Plans and interventions need to consider the implications for the land and property market vis-à-vis the needs of society at large. This point of departure has become paramount in the new South African planning dispensation with the recent passing of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA) in 2013. The paper argues that that urban planners and development practitioners, especially those in the employ of government, need to have a firm understanding of urban land economics and the workings of the land and property markets. And, with the backing of political will, sufficient government resources, determined city level leadership, and investment plans that manage urban development more effectively, the needs of the urban poor could be promoted. Adopting this strategy will require engagement with local communities, the private sector, and other stakeholders in order to channel their collective efforts and energy into common and constructive directions.


Enacting Spluma

The changes in legal and regulatory frameworks play an important role in, not only in development but the impact it has on people’s lives. Everything around us, was to some extent, as a result of urban planning and the particular regulations and planning schemes corresponding thereof. Therefore, it is pertinent that NGOs such as DAG, pay attention to major changes relating to these regulations and laws. A fairly recent change in planning legislation was the establishment of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA), which was passed into law on 1 July 2015. Prior to SPLUMA, planning legislation was highly complex and largely driven by pre-democratic frameworks that focused mainly on provincial ordinances and acts. Although the principles of SPLUMA, such as

  • spatial justice;
  • spatial sustainability;
  • efficiency;
  • spatial resilience; and
  • good administration

Complexities of applying these principles arise when dealing with conflicting inherent other regulations and laws that need to be considered. Although, SPLUMA displays the overarching principles of planning legislation it becomes difficult to apply. Hence, among other meetings that involve understanding and enacting these core principles of frameworks concerning Urban Cape Town, DAG invited Jaap de Visser from the Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance and Human Rights, to direct a discussion and inform DAG as well as some visitors from other organisations at a Lunch Seminar on 2 February 2017.