The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Creating and Capturing Urban Land Value: Contemporary Challenges in South Africa

31 January 2019, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

urban value

Event Information

Open to



Colin Marx


UCL Archaeology Lecture Theatre
31–34 Gordon Square

This presentation compares the theory of how value can be created and captured through urban land with the practical realities in contemporary South Africa. 

It begins by outlining the notion of the ‘urban land-infrastructure-finance nexus’ and the various institutional capabilities required to implement this system (regulatory, registration, financial, administrative and construction institutions and practices) in order to support economic and social development. It then proceeds to consider the contemporary situation in South Africa, where land has recently risen to the top of the political agenda with controversial proposals to amend the Constitution in order to allow private land to be expropriated without compensation. This is partly because land reform policies have failed to respond to popular needs and aspirations, but also because the urban land regime has tended to marginalise the poor majority of the population, resulting in serious grievances and burgeoning land invasions. The presentation concludes by considering what is being, and might be, done about this difficult situation in different cities.


Professor Ivan Turok is Executive Director at the Human Sciences Research Council. He is an editor of the journal ‘Area Development and Policy’, and Honorary Professor at the University of Glasgow. He is also Chairman of the City Planning Commission for Durban. Ivan is an urban and regional economist/planner with over 30 years’ experience of research, teaching and policy advice. He is an occasional adviser to the United Nations, African Development Bank, UNECA and several national governments.

Discussant: Dr Tom Goodfellow (University of Sheffield)

Supported by UCL Grand Challenges, this talk is part of a workshop “Urban Value + Africa” which has two ambitions. Firstly, the aim is to build a cross-disciplinary UCL platform for research in African urban studies. Secondly, this is an opportunity to initiate a conversation, including with a number of invited scholars, to probe some of the key issues and analytical approaches which the Department for International Development propose for a research programme on African cities. Centrally, they express the ambition to break through some of the (political) logjams which have limited the success of programmes of work focussed on different sectors in African cities. They suggest that failures are often attributed to a “lack of political will” (“the bundle of institutional, structural, political and cultural factors that together determine the course of actions taken”). The workshop brings together UCL and invited experts to explore these themes. Please contact Colin Marx (C.Marx@ucl.ac.uk) if you would like to be informed of future events relating to this initiative.

This event is a collaboration between the UCL Urban Laboratory, The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, and UCL Geography.