Peri-Urban Headquarters Building
1959 – drawings on Municipal plan approval file. Presented in SA Architectural Record May 1961 pps 9-15
Unique Development in Local Government
In the Transvaal local government in areas outside the towns, particularly in the neighbourhood of the Witwatersrand and Pretoria, is carried on by the Peri-urban Areas Health Board.
Economic depression in the 1930s, drought, and industrialization have much increased the flow of people to the towns and a noticeable trend is that although people work inside the towns they prefer to live outside them.
Whatever the reason, peri-urban life in South Africa has its own pattern, and to begin with people go to live where there is no local authority, with a lack of planning and municipal services, Johannesburg, where the problem was most severe, extended its boundaries from time to time, but eventually had to limit its growth, and the first peri-urban areas appeared.
In 1938 the government appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Sir Edward Thornton to make investigations and recommendations, and in its report it referred to the vast pen-urban slums encircling the Witwatersrand and Pretoria.
It found that the conventional sort of municipality could not deal with the problem and recommended that a new form of local authority was necessary.
The Transvaal Provincial Council then passed Ordinance No. 20 of 1943, creating the Peri-urban Areas Health Board, regarded in 1944 as an experiment, but its subsequent success has shown it to have been an important step.
With R10,000 in cash, furniture and equipment worth R5,000, and a staff of three the Board had to build itself up, and now, after two decades, its committees and personnel have created some of the most beautiful residential areas in the country. An indication of the growth that accompanies the provision of services is to be seen in the growth of property values. In 1950 the valuation of all areas falling under committees was R47,139,304 in land and R29,949,922 in improvements; by 1961 the figures were R88,788,433 and R132,097,975 respectively.
Within 18 years the Board has assumed control of 800,000 people in about 8,250 square miles (21 370 square kilometer). Rates are paid by 70,000 people and amount to R10,000,000. In 1963, in the peri-urban areas around Johannesburg and Pretoria, the Board approved plans to the value of R58,000,000, there being 130 townships and 135 groups of smallholdings in its jurisdiction. Administration is co-operative in principle, with a central organization in Pretoria supplying municipal services to 33 local committees. Equipment is maintained at various centres, and the services of the central body are available to all the local committees, which function as if they were ordinary local authorities, appointed to begin with, but later elected, ensuring true decentralization.
The Board consists of six members, at present under the chairmanship of Mr. B. Muller, M.P.C., plus fulltime officials such as the secretary-treasurer, medical officer, civil engineer, and so on.
There is constant planning of new townships and regions such as at Alexandra Township, with all their problems of urbanization and industrialization.
[extracted from Lantern, December 1963 p. 92]
All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.
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