In his 2001 State of the Nation address former President Mbeki announced the launch of the Urban Renewal Programme (URP) as an area-based approach which would form part of a 10 years initiative to address poverty and underdevelopment in targeted areas. It had a specific emphasis on improving joint government planning and implementation. Townships were spatially engineered by the architects of apartheid and excluded by design. They are today typified by high levels of poverty and crime. It is in the undoing of these two social malaises that the URP has anchored itself on the policy agenda. The URP focused on eight urban townships in the country as pilots that would pave the way for an urban development strategy on urban renewal to be developed and implemented nationally once the 10 years pilot period elapsed. The paper is a review of lessons learnt and best practices in two anchor URP projects in Cape Town, South Africa.