UNDERSTANDING THE LEGAL VOCABULARY
Town planners are one of a number of professional groupings who are involved in property development and related processes. Their most important role is to guide projects through their planning stages, including statutory approvals. Responsibilities of town planners in the development process normally entail the following:
- Research into the appropriate zoning categories and other development requirements
- The design of cost effective subdivision layouts
- Liaise with developers / clients and the appropriate authorities in order to fulfill the requirements of both
- The preparation and submission of applications in terms of relevant legislation, as well as “driving” the approval process
Town planning requires a good working knowledge of a number of laws that govern development, including different town planning acts and regulations, municipal bylaws, legislation governing environmental, heritage and agricultural aspects, and many others. Town planning applications are normally evaluated and processed by professional town planners employed by local governments. It is therefore important to make use of the services of town planning consultants who fully understand municipal criteria used to evaluate development applications.
Our Town Planners are not only involved in large scale planning and development projects; they also handle many small projects, including single properties where their planning tasks may be limited to aspects such as consent use applications, rezonings, departures, subdivisions and consolidations.
Our involvement in large, multi-disciplinary projects is typically as a member of a team of professionals.
An appeal is the legal right that a person has to request a re-evaluation of an official decision.
Provisions are contained in a number of laws for interested and affected parties to appeal an authority’s decision on land development and related issues. When you appeal, the matter usually gets referred to a ‘higher level’ for further investigation and evaluation and a new decision. The purpose of an appeal process is to ensure that the democratic rights of people are exercised. The most frequently used town planning related appeals processes are currently prescribed in the Land Use Planning Act, 2014(in the Western Cape Province) and the Municipal Systems Act No 32 of 2000.
An application for a consent use is lodged with a local authority where a proposed land use does not comprise a primary use allowed for in terms of the applicable zoning scheme regulations, but is allowed by way of the special consent of the local authority only.
Studies of the numbers and characteristics of the population of a particular area, including projections of that population. These are usually based on census figures and other available sources, but may also involve independent surveys.
This relates to an application to depart (permanently or for a specified period of time) from provisions of the zoning scheme regulations applicable to a specific property. The application process is similar to that required for a rezoning application (see below)
To generate alternative plans for the development of a property, with a view to the selection of the most appropriate design for application purposes
This may include the following:
- An assessment of the likelihood of a development proposal being approved, based on information immediately available, e.g. current development rights, precedence and trends in that area, inspections of the site, etc;
- Assistance with the economic viability of alternative development proposals, particularly inputs on aspects such as the number of saleable units or lettable floor space.
Geographical Information Systems (GIS) very simply put involves the integration of maps, statistical information and databases and can be applied to all data that has a spatial component.
A GIS specialist is someone that has the knowledge to: work with all kinds of GIS software, gather the data needed for a specific application/client, create maps, know how to access and store the information and understands how cartography works in a GIS environment.
A GIS analyst is more involved with manipulating the data to support decision making and can involve GIS software, programming, database design and statistical analysis.
A written and illustrative report that explains and motivates an application directed at any decision making authority. This report is usually required in addition to the filling out of an official application form prescribed in relevant legislation or regulations.
Relates to the planning components of a proposed development such as research into the project and the preparation and “driving” of the approval process – as distinguished from the construction, marketing and other stages of the project after planning approval had been obtained.
The coordination and management of all inputs that are required to prepare and “drive” the planning stages of a project, including inputs from other members of the professional team and from government institutions.
Advice on what the development rights on properties are, e.g. in terms of provisions contained in the applicable zoning scheme regulations and title deeds.
Removal of restrictive title deed conditions
The preparation of an application and the management of the related process to remove or amend conditions contained in the title deed of a property that stand in the way of the execution of a proposed development project. In the Western Cape Province this is done in terms of the Land Use Planning Act 2014.
Research and Surveys
The gathering and analysis of data relating to a specific planning or development related subject, property or (proposed) development. Research and surveys usually comprise an important part of spatial development frameworks, structure plans and other planning work at policy and overview levels.
This implies that an application be lodged in terms of relevant legislative provisions, for a change in the zoning category that prescribes the admissible land uses for a property in the applicable zoning scheme regulations. Such an application must be accompanied by a proper motivation; it must objectively present all relevant information about the case, including plans and other means of illustrating the proposal; it is advertised for comments and possible objections by interested and affected parties; the local authority must make a decision on the application; and affected parties (including the applicant) has a right to appeal against that decision (see “appeals” above)
Plans prepared with a view to guiding development within demarcated physical spaces. This may be done in terms of enabling legislation (such as spatial development frameworks and structure plans) or it may be in the form of informal plans that would typically show the overall spatial context within which a specific development is proposed.
Any application in terms of any legislative provision related to the planning or proposed development of a specific property.
Spatial Development Frameworks
Overall physical plans prepared in terms of provisions contained in enabling legislation such as the Land Use Planning Act 2014 (in the Western Cape Province) and the Municipal Systems Act No 32 of 2000. The purpose of such plans is to provide a framework within which more detailed planning and development proposals can be formulated.
Subdivision of Land
This is a process whereby one or more properties are divided into smaller units with a view to obtaining separate titles for each, thereby enabling such new units to be transferred to new owners. In the Western Cape Province the process is presently prescribed in the Land Use Planning Act of 2014. In most cases the land would have to be rezoned in order to allow subdivision. In some cases restrictive title deed conditions will also have to be removed in order to allow for the subdivision of land.
Feel free to contact BVZPlan if you would like us to assist in any of the processes mentioned in the definitions.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Why it is necessary for legal control over the use of property
In order to govern our land responsibly, the government has put legal means in place to make sure that there is order in the use of land. Chaos may result if everyone were allowed to do whatever they want on their properties. All properties therefore have zoning rights assigned to them, determining what specific properties can be used for. Zoning may range from different types of Residential, Business or Industry to Agriculture and Mixed Use Zones. To find out what the current zoning of your property is, what it means in practical terms and if / how it has to be amended in order to allow you to implement your development ideas on it or how to legalise an unauthorised existing use you are welcome to contact us for a quote.