Senior Associate
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Lauren Royston joined SERI in February 2014 as the organisation's Director of Research and Advocacy. In 2017, Lauren stepped down from this post, but continues to work at SERI as a Senior Research Associate on a part-time basis. Prior to joining SERI, she was a principal at Development Works, a development practice based in Johannesburg, for sixteen years where she undertook a wide range of consulting projects involving research, policy advocacy, writing and management.

Lauren has many years of experience working on urban land and planning and urban tenure security. She spent seven years coordinating the tenure theme at Urban LandMark and led the Tenure Security Facility, a regional project aimed at promoting incremental tenure security in informal settlement upgrading. Her other area of recent focus is on anti-evictions work in Johannesburg’s inner city.

Lauren holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Studies and English Literature, a Master of Science in Development Planning and a Master of Arts in Creative Writing, all from the University of the Witwatersrand.


  • Lauren Royston (2013) "In the meantime ...Moving towards secure tenure by recognising local practice" in Mark Napier et al (eds) Trading Places: Accessing land in African Cities (African Minds).
  • Lauren Royston and Louise Oppenheim (2013) "Sites of Struggle: Strengthening approaches to enhance community participation in informal settlement upgrading" (Planact).
  • Lauren Royston (2013) "Incrementally Securing Tenure: Promising Practices in Informal Settlement Upgrading in Southern Africa" (Urban LandMark).
  • Lauren Royston and Caroline Kihato (2012) "Multiple Land Regimes: Rethinking land governance in Maputo’s peri-urban spaces" Urban Forum 24(1).
  • Lauren Royston (2012) "Guidelines for administering tenure locally" (Afesis-corplan).
  • Lauren Royston and Kate Tissington (2011) "Creating a better life for all through informal settlement upgrading" Transformer (Afesis-corplan).
  • Lauren Royston (2011) "Incrementally securing official access to property" Transformer (Afesis-corplan).
  • Lauren Royston (2009) "A Significantly Increased Role in the Housing Process: The Municipal Housing Planning Implications of BNG" Town and Regional Planning 54 pp. 63-72.
  • Lauren Royston (2009) "The Planact Way: A short history of Planact and its work" in Discovering and Celebrating our History – the Planact Way (Planact).
  • Lauren Royston and Margot Rubin (2008) "Local Land Registration Practices in South Africa" (Urban LandMark).
  • Lauren Royston and Colin Marx (2007) "How the poor access, hold and trade land" (Urban LandMark).
  • Lauren Royston (2007) "Snakes and Ladders: A Housing Perspective on de Soto and the First and Second Economy Debate in South Africa" in Are Hernando de Soto’s Views Appropriate to South Africa, P&DM Occasional Paper Series no 1.
  • Lauren Royston (2006) "Barking dogs and building bridges: a contribution to making sense of Hernando de Soto’s ideas in the South African context" in Marie Huchzermeyer and Aly Karam (eds) Informal Settlements: A Perpetual Challenge? (Cape Town: UCT Press)
  • Lauren Royston et al (2006) "Will formalising property rights reduce poverty in South Africa’s ‘second economy’? Questioning Hernando de Soto’s mythology" PLAAS Policy Brief 18.
  • Lauren Royston (2003) "On the Outskirts: Access to Well-Located Land and Integration in Post-Apartheid Human Settlement Development" in F Khan and P Thring (eds) Housing Policy and Practice in Post-Apartheid South Africa (Heinemann).
  • Lauren Royston (2003) “The plan, the budget and their offspring: a big happy family? Reflections on the role of planning law in democratising access to land and housing in South Africa” in B Alfonsin and E Fernandes (eds) Memorias del IX Seminario Internacional Derecho y Espacio Urbano, IRGLUS and Urban Management Programme (Latin American and Caribbean region).
  • Lauren Royston (2003) "Urban Land Delivery in the Context of the Transition to Democracy in South Africa" in G A Jones (ed) Urban Land Markets in Transition, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
  • Lauren Royston and Alain Durand Lasserve (eds) (2002) Holding their Ground: urban land tenure security for the urban poor in developing countries (London: Earthscan).