Planning child-friendly spaces for rural areas in South Africa : the Vaalharts case study
Child-friendly spaces are not successfully implemented in South Africa due to problems such as urbanization, development pressure, lack of qualitative open spaces and lack of policy and legislation guiding the planning and protection of such spaces. This study evaluates local and international planning approaches of child friendly spaces in an attempt to identify best practices and explore how child-friendly spaces can be planned and utilized locally, in South Africa, (especially rural areas such as the Vaalharts district in the North West Province) to develop playful, educational, environmentally preserving and qualitative child-friendly spaces. The research methodology used in this study consist of (i) a literature investigation on concepts of child-friendly environments, qualitative open spaces, rural challenges, as well as current child-friendly policy and legislation, both from an international and local perspective; and (ii) an empirical study, conducted qualitatively by means of Pilot testing and case study evaluation. Local pilot tests were limited, due to a lack of child-friendly spaces in South Africa to, proposed Valhalla Water Park in Cape Town and Irene Village Mall in Pretoria. The case study evaluation consists out of Green Point Urban Park and the Vaalharts Water Innovation Project that is a newly planned, “still in progress”, project. International case studies included examples of successful child-friendly spaces such as La Louviere in Belgium, Chapefield play area and Darnley Park in Scotland, Play Field Farnborough in England, Caronport Spray Park in Canada and Bellevue Redmond Spray Park in Washington. Based on the findings, recommendations are made in terms of the planning and development of child-friendly spaces, incorporating examples such as the provision of spray parks in rural areas in order to create playful, educational, environmentally preserving and qualitative outdoor spaces.