Situational Crime Prevention

Urban Design Principles

Situational crime prevention aims to change the physical and environmental conditions that generate crime and fear of crime through improved urban design and planning. The situational prevention has been addressed on a strategic level by the development of the Urban Design Principles on a Safe Node by the AHT Khayelitsha Consortium based on the principles of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) and its South African modifications done by CSIR (Designing Safer Places, 2001). The Urban Design Principles on a Safe Node give specific adaptations for township settings with specific focus on Khayelitsha. The principles are based on the analysis of the areas. This analysis is informed by the crime hotspots identified during the Baseline Survey. The urban design principles are applied in a tailor made manner for these specific settings. The principles are accepted by the VPUU PMU, and form part of the community consultation process and offer a good tool for mainstreaming purposes within Departments responsible for service delivery on provincial and municipal level.

Eradication of existing crime hotspots and the construction of integrated human settlements including of new integrated facilities within the Safe Node Areas remain the aim of the situational crime prevention. Elements of the situational crime prevention are:

1. Planning tools:

  • Following the Package of Plans approach which allows coherent and integrated planning on all levels of town planning, urban design, and architectural design from Safe Node Area down to site specific interventions.
  • The urban design concept plans;
  • Precinct plans;

2. Site specific interventions:

  • The notion of introducing places that develop an identity for the Safe Node Areas such as Active Boxes, or Urban parks*;
  • Development of Schools into community learning and development centres;
  • Construction of sports and recreational sites;
  • Mixed used facilities ranging from work live units to multipurpose centres;
  • Safe pedestrian Walkways;
  • Infill housing.

Package of Plans

Any physical intervention in the envisaged Safe Node Areas (SNA) requires attendance to procedural guidelines for interaction within CCT and Provincial Government bodies for approval of plans and projects.

For Khayelitsha, special administrative processes apply for VPUU interventions, especially for land use applications, rezoning and subdivision applications as well as for removal of title deed restrictions common for complex planning and construction processes.

Participatory planning processes are commonly applied where the broader Khayelitsha community is affected by a proposed development. The VPUU implementation follows the “Package of Plans” approach for the identification, design, planning and construction of the Safe Node Areas.

This approach will take the process through a logical series of design phases, including the development of:

  • The VPUU Urban Design Concept Plans
  • Precinct Plans for parts of each of the Safe Node Areas;
  • Project Plans for projects identified within the Safe Node Areas; and
  • Detailed Building Plans required for the construction phase of each project.

The Package of Plans approach is a flexible system of managing planning and implementation of projects and consists of a hierarchy of plans that allows the design and approval process to move from the general to more detailed as the various levels of planning is completed.

Urban Design Concept Plans

The system also allows for participation of the target community at various stages of the development process creating opportunities for local communities to become involved in and understand the “bigger picture” beyond their local, immediate needs. This approach is particularly flexible insofar as it is able to respond to changing needs with the local communities and the unpredictability of market forces.

At the Contextual Framework stage broad policies and principles for the development of Safe Node Areas throughout Khayelitsha will be determined via the Urban design Concept Plan.

Based on the Khayelitsha Spatial Development Framework (that focuses on the CBD as primary node; satellite/neighbourhood centres as secondary and tertiary nodes; new residential areas; resettlement of dwellers; upgrading of existing informal housing areas; upgrading of commercial areas; upgrading of transport facilities; provision of better public and private services, and utilisation of open spaces) the four identified Safe Node Areas belong to the secondary and tertiary nodes. These areas will play an important role by complementing the Khayelitsha CBD with commercial and social facilities in the neighbourhoods.

After community meetings and surveys, four Urban Design Concept Plans have been elaborated integrating the Safe Node Areas into the urban context and defining the overall development concept with land uses, proposed subdivisions, service arrangements, road design, landscaping, pedestrian environment and three dimensional built form controls.

These plans provide a lay out guideline for the future development of the Safe Node Areas. The plans will articulate the focal elements to support a safe and violence preventive environment. The Urban Design Concept Plans will undergo a number of changes during the implementation process integrating new developments, views and opportunities into the planning concept.

Urban Design Concept Plans Safe Node Areas

Precinct Plans

It is at this stage of the planning process that specific areas (precincts) for intervention are determined. Each Safe Node Area is divided into several precincts.

The Precinct Plans are aimed at ensuring that well-defined, high quality urban environments are created that respond to the broad policies and principles developed through the Contextual Framework stage.

Below is an example of one of the 5 precincts Harare has been subdivided into.

Harare SNA: Precinct 3 current situation
Formal Housing (Red)
Informal Housing (Green)

Harare Safe Node Area Precinct 3 Proposal for consultation
Formal Housing (Red)
Informal Housing (Green)
Potential for commercial, social opportunities

The broad phasing of development within each Safe Node Area is determined at this stage to ensure that project implementation occurs in a logical manner that is aligned to community needs, funding cycles and the dictates of the specific site without compromising the functionality of the Safe Node Area concept.

Precinct Plan

Project Plans

Project Plans include dimensionally correct sketch plans (or Site Development Plans) further detailing development of the site and incorporating movement patterns, focus area, street furniture, the treatment of hard and soft spaces and detailed urban design proposals for the site. Pockets of development (projects) are identified and detailed in such a manner as to ensure that sensible, logical and cost-effective implementation is achieved.

Click to download full size rendered drawing at 1:500 of Precinct 3

Building Plans

The development of detailed Building Plans for the physical construction of individual buildings within each of the identified projects completes the planning process.

The Package of Plans process provides for a step-wise approach to the planning process that facilitates the approval processes required by both the local communities as well as the approval authorities. The broad policies and principles agreed to at Contextual Framework stage of the process serve to guide the development of more detailed planning during the subsequent phases and eliminates the duplication of consultative processes commonly encountered in projects of this nature and magnitude.

Critical stages for community participation as outlined in the diagram must be considered as a minimum to ensure that the development of Safe Node Areas is sustainable and accepted by the target community as a product of their own endeavours.

Minimum Community Participation as part of Package of Plans

Active Boxes

The concept of Active Boxes has been introduced to VPUU in 2007 via the elaboration of Precinct Plans and is a result of two processes – the urban design approach of VPUU based on a combination of CPTED principles and elements of social crime prevention, as well as the process arising out of the Baseline Survey process in 2006 that expressed the need of improved safety throughout the Safe Node Areas.

Harare Safe Node Area: Hotspots

Harare Safe Node Area: locations of proposed Active Boxes

The location of the Active Boxes is informed by the Hotspots identified during the Baseline Survey (see above two figures). It wants to act as safe spaces along major pedestrian walkways within the Safe Node Areas. One of the situational crime prevention interventions of VPUU is to give an identity to each of the 4 Safe Node Areas. A series of easily identifiable vertical elements or landmarks that form an integral component of the developments along identified major pedestrian routes is proposed. These structures will serve to create a specific identity for each of the Safe Node Areas; they will function as orientation devices along the pedestrian routes and they will be points of refuge along the route should a criminal situation arise, and are places of activity for a variety of resident groups.

The VPUU approach allows community involvement in identifying the locations, the design, and the operation and management process to ensure sustainable multifunctional structures. By doing so self-esteem and confidence in the neighbourhood is promoted. Community involvement can also be promoted during the construction phase. The structures should accommodate activities that ensure maximum day and night activity to provide multifunctional meeting places within a neighbourhood. Other neighbourhoods should be encouraged to repeat the construction and usage of the Active Boxes, creating a net of safe elements.

According to the VPUU “Urban Design Principles” these structures should express the following tools:

  • ‘Owned spaces’
  • Natural surveillance,
  • Visual connections,
  • Signage,
  • Assemblage,
  • Integration,
  • Mixed Use,
  • 24 hour activities,
  • Lighting.

The name “Active Box” is a working title up until a proper name giving has been done via a competition amongst the residents of the SNA after the first couple of such structures have been erected.

Active Box Concept

Work Live Units

VPUU’s understanding of an integrated human settlement requires the mix of functions. Work Live units comprise of an element of residential (living) and an element of income generation (work). It is proposed to develop along the major pedestrian walkways, around urban squares, and around stations a series of such buildings. The usual work live unit would consist of ground floor income generating activity in form of a shop, offices, a workshop, etc. and an upstairs flat that would be occupied by the business owner. This will increase the mix of uses within Khayelitsha, a mono-functional area (purely residential), create income opportunities for local residents, ensure business owners occupation and investment in their place of residence, further strengthen the notion of ownership, and ensure passive surveillance of the public environment.
Samples are currently under development and will be constructed in due course.

Safe Schools

The crime prevention interventions in schools within the Safe Node Areas can be described as community crime prevention comprises which comprises of opportunity reduction (= situational crime prevention) and developmental prevention (social crime prevention). It aims to ensure that schools develop into centres of community regeneration, that promote violence prevention principles, and allow an uninterrupted childhood development.

Opportunity-reduction has emerged along side growing awareness about how the physical and social environment affects human behaviour. They encompass CPTED and situational crime prevention. It is based on the assumptions that CPTED could eliminate or decrease the potential incidence of crime in schools buildings and school-yards. Whereas conventional security design measures often revolves around demands for harsher discipline, greater target hardening and increased control and monitoring of behaviour, CPTED in schools rather focuses on desired behaviour. They encompass access to schools, enhancement of natural surveillance over recreational grounds or car parks, safe routes for students to travel to and from schools. The CPTED principles can be used in the design of new schools and the re-design of existing schools. VPUU will develop care taker flats on school grounds, develop sporting facilities, and explore ideas to activate the street edges alongside school properties with a variety of options to ensure passive surveillance and use of these spaces.

Safe Schools Concept

Developmental prevention refers to intervention designed to inhibit the development of criminal potentials in individuals, thereby reducing the number of motivated offenders. A developmental approach involves moderating risk factors (factors or determinants for which there is strong objective evidence of causal relationships to violence) and amplifying protective factors (factors that potentially decrease the likelihood of engaging in violence).

Community crime prevention incorporates both developmental and opportunity-reduction crime prevention. Many school-based crime and delinquency prevention programmes are now multi-faceted. Peer-group mediation, conflict resolution and restorative approaches; education and curriculum programmes to increase skill development; specialized in-school staff and targeted individual pupil support; teacher training and support; whole-school anti-bullying programs; help-lines; protocols and safety plans are all being used increasing internationally. Considerable attention is now being given to technical support, networking and exchange and capacity building. Clustering projects, which group schools across schools districts and boards, provide such an example.
VPUU has engaged in a partnership with the Western Cape Community Peace and Development Network (hyperlink to partners) to develop a learnership on conflict resolution and mediation with the aim to train mediators within the schools of the Safe Node Areas that are able to assist in conflict situations on school grounds.

Sport Facilities

The power of integration provided by sport is fully recognised by VPUU and efforts are made to provide a variety of sporting facilities, ranging from informal sporting facilities that have no access restrictions such as a kick about in an urban park to sporting facilities that comply with international standards with a restricted access (e.g. schools and clubs) and allow sporting activities to take place on the highest standards. A good example is given in Harare Precinct 3 and the adjacent Kwam Fundo Senior Secondary School. A strategic partnership is currently negotiated to include the German Soccer Federation as partner in such an initiative.
The development of soccer coaches according to South African Football Association standards has been engaged on.
The partnership with Kicking for Peace, a cup that is contested three times per annum amongst teams from low income neighbourhoods via the Western Cape Community Peace and Development Network (hyperlink to partners) of which VPUU is a member is one of the initiatives that support youth activities in the area.

Harare Precinct 3

Pedestrian Walkways

Safe pedestrian walkways are a core element of the VPUU urban design approach. The urban design principles are applied to these developments to ensure safer walkways for the residents. Proper lighting, hard surfaces, the active boxes alongside the walkways, street furniture and work live units are elements that make up the safe walkways. The interaction with elements of the social crime prevention such as patrolling wants to ensure a safer environment for the residents.