Defining the Urban Edge - A Guide to its Implementation for Sustainable Development




Urban edge, urban development boundary, urban growth boundary, sprawl, apartheid planning, section 24 of the Constitution, environmental law, spatial planning law, South Africa


As relics of the legacy of apartheid, the boundaries of cities have expanded exponentially. The notion of the urban edge has therefore been introduced as a planning tool to prevent further sprawl and has become an integral part of spatial planning. Court judgments provide guidelines for the interpretation of the notion, but they do not give direction regarding how it should be implemented.

Various factors, both planning and environmental, impact on the success or failure of the implementation of the urban edge. It is also a Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act 16 of 2013 (SPLUMA) requirement that the drafting of the Spatial Development Framework (SDF) (which may incorporate an urban edge) must consider environmental management instruments.

The demarcation and periodic review of an urban edge is an important and complex exercise. The writer submits that an acceptable definition of it is necessary to help resolve the difficulties involved in this process. Section 24 of the Constitution (which is indicative of a compact and sustainable urban environment) requires consideration, as do the interdependence of urban and rural areas. Having a uniform definition of the urban edge would be useful as a guideline to municipalities when demarcating and managing it.

As the urban edge may be depicted in a municipal SDF in terms of SPLUMA, and as it is a planning tool, it is recommended that the definition be established by and included in SPLUMA. The definition proposed below incorporates various elements found in existing definitions.


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How to Cite

Govindjee, U. (2022). Defining the Urban Edge - A Guide to its Implementation for Sustainable Development. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 25, (Published 7 June 2022) pp 1 – 31.



SARChi CLES Series on Cities, Law and Environmental Sustainability

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