Stephen Berrisford leads the Cities practice at Pegasys Global, based in Cape Town. He is an expert in the field of urban planning law and policy in Southern Africa. His work focuses on practical approaches to urban legal reform as well as the integration of regulatory and financial mechanisms to achieve sustainable, inclusive and efficient towns and cities. He holds BA LLB and MCRP degrees from UCT and an MPhil in Land Economy from the University of Cambridge. From 2000 to 2017 he ran Stephen Berrisford Consulting. Before that he held the post of Director: Land Development Facilitation at the South African government’s Department of Land Affairs and worked in the planning departments of the Cape Town and Johannesburg municipalities. During 2010 he was a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Town and Regional Planning at the University of Sheffield. His clients include the major international development agencies as well as all three spheres of government in South Africa. Stephen’s work focuses on the identification of practical and just legal solutions to the challenges of rapid urban growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. He has regularly published academic articles and book chapters since 1996 and has presented papers at a wide range of international conferences. He was awarded the Dubai International Award for Best Practice (2017) for Reforming Urban Laws in Africa: a practical guide, which he co-wrote with the late Professor Patrick McAuslan.


Berrisford, S and P McAuslan (2017) Reforming Urban Laws in Africa: a practical guide, African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town


Journal articles
Berrisford, S, LR Cirolia and I Palmer (2018, forthcoming, accepted for publication) ‘Land based financing in Sub-Saharan African Cities’, Environment and Urbanization

Cirolia, LR and S Berrisford (2017) ‘Negotiated planning: diverse trajectories of implementation in Nairobi, Addis Ababa and Harare, Habitat International Vol. 59

Berrisford, S (2011) Why It Is Difficult to Change Urban Planning Laws in African Countries, Urban Forum, (22) 3

Berrisford, S (2011) Unraveling Apartheid Spatial Planning Legislation in South Africa: A Case Study, Urban Forum, (22) 3

Berrisford, S (2011) Revising Spatial Planning Legislation in Zambia: A Case Study, Urban Forum: (22) 3

Berrisford, S and M Kihato (2006), The role of planning law in evictions in Sub-Saharan Africa, South African Review of Sociology, (37) 1

Berrisford, S (1997) Implementation of the Development Facilitation Act, South African Planning Journal, (42)


Book chapters
Greyling, S and S Berrisford (2016) ’Using planning tools to enable informal settlement upgrading: identifying future opportunities for South African cities’ in Cirolia, L., Görgens, T., van Donk, M., Smit, W., & Drimie, S. (in press). Upgrading Informal Settlements in South Africa: A partnership-based approach. Cape Town: UCT Press.

Glasser, M and S Berrisford (2015) ’Urban Law: A Key to Accountable Urban Government and Effective Urban Service Delivery’ in World Bank Legal Review, Vol. 6 (Washington DC: World Bank)

Berrisford, S (2014) ‘The challenge of urban planning law reform in African cities’ in Pieterse and Parnell, Africa’s Urban Revolution (London: Zed Books)

Berrisford, S (2013) ‘Getting land governance right in sub-Saharan cities: more than land administration’ in Napier, Berrisford, Kihato et al Trading Places: accessing land in African cities (Somerset West: African Minds)

Berrisford, S. and Oranje, M‚ (2012) ‘Planning law reform and change in post-apartheid South Africa’ in Hartmann, T and B. Needham (eds.) Planning by Law and Property Rights Reconsidered (London: Ashgate)

Berrisford, S. and Kihato, M‚ (2007) ‘Local government planning legal frameworks and regulatory tools: vital signs?’ in Parnell, S. Pieterse, E. Swilling, M. Wooldridge, D and van Donk, M. (eds). The Developmental Local State: Lessons from Theory and Practice (Cape Town: UCT Press)

Berrisford, S (1998) ‘Law and Urban Change in the New South Africa’ in Illegal Cities: Law and Urban Change in Developing Countries, edited by Fernandes, E and Varley, A (London: Zed Books)


Selected Reports
Palmer, I and S Berrisford (2015) Urban Infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa: harnessing land values, housing and transport, Department for International Development, London

Berrisford, S (2013) How to make planning law work for Africa, Africa Research Institute, London

Berrisford, S (2009) Reform hasn’t quite landed, article in Mail & Guardian, September 2009

Berrisford, S, D De Groot, M Kihato, N Marrengane, Z Mhlanga and R van der Brink (2008) In search of Land & Housing in the New South Africa: the case of Ethembalethu, World Bank Working Paper #130.

Todes, A, S Berrisford and M Kihato (2007) Relationship between environment and planning, for the Kwazulu-Natal Planning & Development Commission

UN-Habitat (2005) Law, Land Tenure and Gender Review: Southern Africa with four case studies in Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia’ (principal author along with co-authors Kihato, M and Roux, T)

Charlton, S, M Silverman and S Berrisford (2003) Taking Stock: review of the Department of Housing’s Programme, Policies and Practice (1994-2003), for USAID and Department of Housing

Berrisford, S, M Kihato and N Klug (2003) International shifts in shelter and settlement policy and their implications for South African praxis, for USAID and Department of Housing

Berrisford, S (2002) Report to Minister of Provincial & Local Government, South Africa, Development Planning in the implementation of the National Urban Renewal Programme

Minister of Agriculture & Land Affairs (2001) Wise Land Use: White Paper on Land Use Management and Spatial Planning, principal drafter

Berrisford, S (2000), Integrated Development Plans and Land Use Management Linkages, report for GTZ-South Africa and the Department of Provincial & Local Government


Conference presentations
Cities Alliance Africa Strategy Workshop, Accra, Ghana, The Urban Legal Guide for Sub-Saharan Africa, 2016

Habitat III Thematic Meeting on Informal Settlements, Pretoria, Informal Settlements: the best case yet for urban legal reform, 2016

Southern African City Studies Conference, Durban, South Africa, The potential for land-based financing to address infrastructure needs in Southern African cities, 2016

Africities 2015, Johannesburg, South Africa Land-based financing for urban infrastructure, 2015

World Urban Forum 7, Medellin, Colombia, Making new urban law: a dialogue between Latin America and Africa, convenor of panel discussion, 2014

World Urban Forum 6, Naples, Italy, Speaker on Plenary Dialogue on Urban Land Governance, 2012

Planning Africa 2010, Durban, South Africa, Why it’s difficult to change planning laws in Africa, plenary presentation, 13-15 September 2010 (plenary)

World Bank Conference on Land Policy & Administration, Washington DC, USA, Revising urban planning laws in South Africa and Zambia: Implementation and impacts, 26-27 April 2010 (sub-plenary)

Isandla National Conference on ‘The Developmental Local State: Lessons from Theory and Practice’, Cape Town, South Africa, Tools & Regulatory instruments of developmental local government: planning legal frameworks and regulatory frameworks, November 2006 (plenary, co-presented with M Kihato)

Planning Africa 2006, Cape Town, South Africa, Planning Implications of the Formation of Back-to-Back Municipal Boundaries: a case study of Mbombela, 2006 (sub-plenary)

International Conference on Planning Legislation, Housing & Environment, Lusaka, Zambiam, Is Planning Law in Africa Realizing its Potential? 7-11 November 2005 (plenary)

First Brazilian Conference on Urban Law, Urban Law Reform in South Africa, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, plenary presentation, 13-15 December 2000 (plenary)

IRGLUS/CALS Conference International Workshop on ‘Redefining Property Rights in an era of liberalisation and privatisation’, Redistribution of Land Rights in South Africa: simply a rural question? University of the Witwatersrand, 29-30 July 1999 (plenary)