The planning and development of child-friendly green spaces in urban South Africa
The impact that urban green spaces in urban environments have on the sustainability and quality of life of the residents is phenomenal (Atiqul & Shah, 2011:601; UrbSpace, 2010; Levent et al, 2004:1). The local reality in South Africa confirms that green spaces in urban environments are decreasing because of growing populations and increasing urbanization (Statistics South Africa, 2013:2). This study aims to investigate the planning of and provision for green spaces in the urban environment, along with the benefits that such spaces can provide to communities by focusing on the aspect of child-friendliness. The planning of child-friendly spaces is no new phenomena in the international context, but however, limited in local context. This research aims to investigate the concept of child-friendly spaces, along with theoretical aspects and international best practices, in order to be able to evaluate the current South African approach (and legislative support) of the planning of such spaces within urban green spaces. This study evaluated the planning and implementation of child-friendly spaces in the urban environment of the city of Durban, Republic of South Africa. It is based on the theoretical background investigating concepts such as open spaces, green spaces and child-friendly spaces. The importance of planning for green spaces and as such, child-friendly green spaces were also elaborated on. Two international case studies were identified as best-practice cases and included in this research, namely Mullerpier child-friendly public playground in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and Kadidjiny Park in Melville, Australia. The aim was to determine how these child-friendly spaces were planned and developed and to identify tools that were used to accomplish the goal of providing successful child-friendly green spaces. Planning approaches of the two international case studies illustrated the need and importance of planning for such spaces and how it should be implemented to ensure sustainability of the child-friendly space itself and the surrounding area. The policies and frameworks which influence the study area in Essenwood, Durban, were identified and analysed in order to establish whether or not the planning and development of child-friendly spaces is supported within the chosen area. This research concluded that child-friendly green spaces have a positive impact on the urban environment, caters for children’s needs and assist in their development and interaction with the natural environment. The need for these spaces is of utmost importance and the proposed implementation and improvement of child-friendly green spaces should be supported by way of specific policies and legislation, in order to ensure the success and sustainability of these spaces. Examples of international case studies were used to identify best practical examples, in order to formulate recommendations to improve the planning and development of child-friendly spaces in South Africa. Local gaps were identified in the current approach to planning of these child-friendly green spaces in South Africa.