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Media release

CSIR publishes guidelines for social facility planning

05 November 2012
The CSIR has published guidelines for the provision of social facilities in South African settlements. These are for use in the planning and development of social facilities locally in towns, cities and provinces. The guidelines apply to a wide range of facilities across many sectors, including health, education, sports, recreation and the public service.

The guidelines can be used for more focussed and needs-based municipal infrastructure spending and the development of adequately provisioned towns and suburbs.

Available as a single data source, the publication contains updated, consolidated and numerically-expressed information about the requirements for providing social facilities in urban and rural settlements locally. The publication also addresses the urgent need to support authorities in developing and planning fully-serviced and functional settlements.

According to town planning specialist Chéri Green, the book is the result of several years of work with major metros such as the City of Cape Town and eThekwini Municipality. “Guidelines for basic services like water and electricity are well-established, but those for social facilities were either outdated, non-existent or where available, had not been sufficiently tested in the South African context.”

The lack of social facility guidelines resulted in an over-supply of certain facilities such as community halls for some communities, with a maintenance burden on the municipalities, while others lacked even the most basic facilities. The guidelines will facilitate an equitable provision of social facilities to all communities and enable the measurement of backlogs in service provision.

The guidelines can be used for:

  • forward planning – allocating scarce land and limited capital budgets;
  • land-use management – determining the number and scale of facilities needed and the site requirements;
  • plan implementation – yardstick for measuring sufficiency or the need for facilities; and
  • improving quality of life.

The acknowledged practical value of the guidelines compiled by the CSIR has seen the City of Cape Town incorporating a customised set of these guidelines into its Spatial Development Framework, while eThekwini is using their set for forward planning to evaluate development plans of new areas and motivate submissions for funding.

Recently, the CSIR in cooperation with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), tested and refined the guidelines for eight government departments. These include Health, Basic Education, Social Development, Home Affairs, Safety and Security, Justice and Constitutional Development, Labour and Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS).

According to CSIR researchers, Chéri Green and Tansy Argue, the guidelines are intended to facilitate equitable and rational planning and are not prescriptive. Authorities should consider the requirements and development context of communities and adapt the guidelines accordingly.

In the main, they address demand thresholds – the number of people served – and the access norms for a desirable travelling time and distance to and from social facilities. The parameters also differ according to the size and type of settlements. A settlement that serves as a regional service centre for a larger area may, for example, qualify for a district hospital or regional library even if relatively sparsely populated.

In urban areas, the distance to offices such as the Department of Home Affairs and South African Social Service Agency, should ideally be no further than 15 km, while the size of the offices should be adjusted to accommodate the number of people who use the service.

Distances to social facilities could increase to 20 or 25 km in peri-urban areas and up to 40 km in rural areas. Less densely populated areas, such as the Northern Cape, may have to rely to a greater extent on mobile and periodic services.

The guidelines publication is currently being distributed widely to all municipalities, government departments, town and spatial planners and universities. “This is a working document and we welcome feedback and suggestions which can be incorporated in any future editions,” concluded Green.

Publication can be accessed on the web http://www.csir.co.za/Built_environment/Guidelines_Standards.html

or requested from the CSIR (lflorist@csir.co.za).


Contact Person
Cheri Green
Email: General and technical enquiries
Tel: +27 21 888 2657

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Last updated : 05 November 2012

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