The Department of Urban and Regional Planning was founded at the University of Cape Town in 1965. By 1973 it was offering a two-year course-work masters programme, renamed as the Masters in City and Regional Planning.  Both this programme and a new, related programme, the Master of City Planning and Urban Design, were granted recognition by the South African Institute of Town and Regional Planners in November 1977. In 1986 these degree programmes became part of a newly restructured School of Architecture and Planning. Subsequently the School expanded to incorporate Geomatics, and the planning and urban design programmes were complemented with a new masters programme in Landscape Architecture. The three masters programmes currently share common studios and theory courses in the first year of study.

In 2011 new staff joined the planning programme and this has presented the opportunity for a major curriculum evaluation and revision.  New courses in infrastructure planning and economic development have been introduced, as well as a local studio based in an informal settlement which capitalises on experiential learning. Earlier values and concerns still inform the teaching philosophy, but are interpreted in new ways. Students are taught that the aim of planning is to enhance spatial and social justice, and to promote environmental sustainability with a particular concern for climate change and resource depletion. The programme has a strong spatial emphasis, on the understanding that intervention in the nature of the built and natural environment is an important mechanism for achieving societal goals.

School website:   http://www.apg.uct.ac.za/


List of SACPLAN accredited planning qualifications currently being offered

Master in City and Regional Planning (MCRP)





(First published in The Monday Paper, UCT, 7 May 2012)

“Nothing for us, without us” was a key message from the impoverished community in Langrug, Franschhoek, for UCT students and staff from the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics that visited the area in February 2012. The students were in Langrug for their first official site visit and data gathering expedition as they began researching ways to improve living conditions in the informal settlement.  Furthermore, the project is a long-term collaborative initiative with the Municipality of Stellenbosch, the official owner of the land upon which the informal settlement is located, and Slum Dwellers International (SDI).

First-year Master’s students in City and Regional Planning (MCRP) and Landscape Architecture, at the University of Cape Town, are tasked with recommending upgrades and spatial development frameworks for the informal context the 4,000 Langrug residents are forced to negotiate. The semester-long project, facilitated by Dr Tanja Winkler and Ms Liana Muller, also forms the core of the Programme’s CPD course on Basic Planning Skills for in-situ Upgrade that is attended by community leaders and residents.  Deputy Director of Integrated Human Settlements for the Stellenbosch Municipality, David Carolissen, said it was important for the state and other partners to work with communities like Langrug instead of “talking down” to them if it hoped to correct social ills. “Informal settlements in Franschhoek present a complex challenge,” Carolissen said. “Langrug has 4,000 people. All have challenges like access to water and electricity”.

In the first of many visits to the area, hidden from view from the picturesque and wealthy Franschhoek town centre, students were taken aback by the physically and economically stifling conditions. Many agreed that the most pressing need was installing safe, running water and sanitation facilities into the settlement.

“Proper facilities like water and sanitation are definitely the most urgent needs,” said Aa-ishah Petersen, a Master’s student in City and Regional Planning.

Professor Vanessa Watson, deputy dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, explained that the project stemmed from a 2010 memorandum of understanding signed by a number of African Planning Schools with Slum Dwellers International (SDI). The schools pledged to teach students to plan with communities, as opposed to for them.

“Planners had a very bad reputation worldwide, because they hoped to control things,” Watson explained. “So now we’re trying to train planners to learn from communities as well as from books.”

Langrug Informal Settlement, Franschhoek Valley, Western Cape

Masters in City and Regional Planning (MCRP) students from UCT planning with community leaders and residents.

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