PPS (2014) indicated that public spaces are built environmental settings that offer social, economic and environmental benefits to the space users. Different types of public spaces offer social, economic and environmental benefits which lead to different space users to perceiving and experiencing the roles of spaces differently and this also means that users have different preferences towards the types of spaces that should be provided, where they should be developed and which activities should be accommodated in those spaces. Within South Africa, there is inadequate literature on perceptions and experiences of township space users. Within the country, especially in the City of East London, the perceptions and experiences of space users towards different types of public spaces have not been comprehensively explored. The research is aimed at investigating the perceptions, experiences, and preferences of local residents in Duncan Village towards different types and configurations of public spaces that would be able to fulfil a range of local needs in the area. The research study was completed through a qualitative research approach. The qualitative research approach was descriptive and exploratory in nature. The study used semi-structured interviews, participant observation, document review and graphic and other visual approaches to collect data and used an inductive approach to analyse the research data. The findings of the research study pointed out that residents of Duncan Village perceive the roles provided by streets (existing public spaces) differently. The participants experienced that the streets play important roles in Duncan Village through offering different activities such as commercial activities, exercising, and socialising. In the study area, streets are only existing public spaces that offer all activities which are supposed to be offered by other different types of public spaces. Participants experienced that the streets in the study area were affected by factors such as management, ownership, security, climatic conditions and planning and design. In terms of the preferences of residents, the research found that a public park, plaza, sports complex were preferred spaces to be developed in Duncan Village and streets were the only existing public spaces in the study area The findings of the research articulated that preferred public spaces should accommodate the following activities: business (formal and informal business activities); exercise (running, walking, jogging); and socialisation. With regard to the space users, the research found that all age groups (children, youth and adult) used streets. Considering the findings, it is suggested that the function of different spaces should be reconsidered and incorporate Crime Prevention through Environmental Design CPTED strategies, address all factors that affect the functionality of preferred different types of public spaces, and police surveillance.
Dissertation (MTRP)--University of Pretoria, 2018.