Chapter 18: On the defensive: the residential strategies shaping densification in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs
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Traditionally, Johannesburg’s northern suburbs have been low-density neighbourhoods. Designated under apartheid for the white population, the last twenty to thirty years have seen these areas desegregate, develop and densify, driven mostly gated residences. The City aims to densify these areas further through transit-oriented development, has implemented a number of public-transit infrastructures. These processes have been unfolding in multiple ways, and have received varied responses from residents and residents’ associations. This chapter examines three case study areas: Houghton Estate, Orange Grove, and Norwood. Although the neighbourhoods have variations in their urban fabric, residents have responded to densification with strategies that have commonalities across all the case studies. Residents have organised themselves into residents’ associations, umbrella organisations and used online communication platforms. Residents have actively participated in formal planning processes, and have also leveraged neighbourhood character in response to densification. These strategies have had mixed results but are most effective in re-shaping state-led densification.

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