Multi-stakeholder perspectives on approaches for addressing the incidence of urban public open space encroachment: The case of Freedom Square, Bloemfontein
Keywords:Bloemfontein, encroachment, sustainable neighbourhoods, urban public open space
Several studies have investigated the extinction of urban public open spaces in South Africa. However, a fixation by such studies on well-established primary cities has been noticed, whilst limited attention has been paid to emerging major cities. In addition, findings from these studies have resulted from the perspectives of either planning entities’ representatives or representatives of the communities associated with open space encroachment. This implies the absence of a systemic and multi-stakeholder engagement. This article contributes towards bridging these observed gaps through the elicitation of multi-stakeholder perspectives on the enablers of urban public open space encroachment in major cities, using a Mangaung Metropolitan exemplar. Adopting a qualitative case study research design, data were gathered using semi-structured interviews and focus-group interviews. Participants were purposively recruited from Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality planning department and community members residing in Freedom Square township, Bloemfontein. The data were analysed using thematic analysis. Significant enablers identified include low levels of sustainability literacy, low levels of citizen participation in the planning process, and planners’ inability to manage extant value conflicts. The findings from this study contribute to a broader study that seeks to develop an urban open space planning and management framework for forestalling the incidence of encroachment in major cities. Accordingly, this study’s findings have practical implications for relevant planning stakeholders who are keen on curbing the incidence of urban open space encroachment in South African townships.
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