The use of corridor development as a strategic and supporting instrument towards the development of national space economies
Brand, André de Wet
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Development corridors are the outcome of the flow of goods, services and information between nodes which leads to the manifestation of urban development and economic growth. This functional relationship leads to two key elements: 1) a link between nodes providing access to different levels of economies; and 2) the intensity of economic development at nodes which vary in size and dominance. The outcome is a regional or urban system comprised of a larger number of lower-order settlements and fewer higher order settlements, each having a different impact and contribution regarding economic space development. Therefore, great, cumulative benefits may become apparent when potential corridors are modelled along economic spaces, thereby underpinning the notion that the corridor concept has been and still is regarded as an important development instrument in planning. However, it is evident that the notion that development corridors are integrated strategic and supporting networks to structure economic space development is lacking. What is specifically lacking is an integrated approach (Spatial Corridor Model [SCM]) to identify development corridors that will create areas or zones as potential investment opportunities to promote the structuring of economic spaces. In this regard, the research focused on constructing an SCM as a theoretical framework that will provide direction in the restructuring of economic spaces. The outcome of the model focused on three key functional output levels: 1) the spatial distribution of settlements, according to functional typologies which represent the economic dominance of each settlement, relative to one another; 2) the relative economic advantage (how gravity correlates with the size of the economy) of the settlements based on proximity relative to one another; and 3) integrated and supporting networks of development axes creating potential corridor development zones upon which a national spatial framework can be built to guide economic space development within the country. The research findings support the notion that the Spatial Corridor Model (SCM) provides a mechanism for interpreting spatial transformation and economic development. This is achieved based on the following elements: 1) providing a framework for the establishment of potential economic zones; 2) promoting explicit, focused areas guiding economic space development under the auspices of primary and secondary nodes supporting predominant, prominent and significant development axes; 3) highlighting primary and secondary nodes which lack potential development axes; 4) promoting economic advantages for nodes located in close proximity to the connecting predominant, prominent and significant links; and 5) creating economic conditions that stimulate intra-regional and cross-border trade opportunities. Furthermore, the research also highlighted the consideration that the factors to increase the appeal of preferred locations as destinations for investment, to promote inclusive growth lay with cities, by implication. Lastly, the research concluded that the national government should, through the Spatial Corridor Model (SCM), develop a realistic spatial perspective on long-term settlement patterns and investment opportunities which will transform economic space development, while provincial and local governments should identify opportunities that align with their circumstances, in other words, local authorities should respond proactively and innovatively to rapid change; and they should realise their economic potential as consumers, producers, landowners or investors to develop and promote the economy.