The Basics of Strategic and Urban and Regional Planning in South Africa

Strategic planning is the driving methodology used for the identification of the urban strengths and weaknesses and development of core strategies for development of land on local level. Such planning makes it possible for the stakeholders to choose appropriate goals and to define the relevant strategies to reach these goals. Planning is essential to create a coherent vision of future developments and to create a culture of participation by all the relevant stakeholders. Strategic planning forms the umbrella under which appropriate planning practises occur and should therefore not be confused with the actual urban and regional planning taking place at local level. Strategic planning is flexible and includes tools that can be adapted to meet changing requirements in order to reach specific goals. Urban planning and regional planning are regulated by specific laws and guidelines. In South Africa we can distinguish between three types of municipalities: • Metropolitan – Tshwane, Cape Town and Johannesburg are examples. • District – consisting of the local municipalities in a particular district. • Local – covering a specific geographical area and having own functions. Urban and regional planning at these levels should balance the urgent need for housing for the poorer communities with the strategic goal of sustainable use of resources and minimizing environmental impact. At the same time government housing subsidies for single unit houses and cheap land for housing stand juxtaposed to the strategic goal of sustainable land use and development that, at the other end of the spectrum, encourages more compact settlements as close as possible to work opportunities. As such a balance must be struck, necessitating legislation at national...

The Origin and Development of Town Planning

Town planning has been around since the beginning of organised civilisation. Although not as complex as today, with the advent of advocacy, zoning and advanced strategic spatial planning, growing human settlements historically required of inhabitants to organise their living spaces. This included making provision for water channels, sewage, stockpiling of grain and wood, creating adequate housing for animals, spaces for markets, town centres, law centres, and housing for humans. All the while there needed to be pathways for walking and eventually horses, carts and related transport matters. Once the nomadic lifestyle was exchanged for cultivation the organisation of various activities and products was needed. Some settlements grew quickly due to their location, allowing easy access to water and thus creation of channels for the purpose of irrigation and human consumption. Other settlements grew slowly as the settlements weren’t established near easily available resources such as wood, stone, water and minerals. Occupations developed over time and specialisation occurred with people taking on roles such as priests, soldiers, inn-keepers, slave traders, sailors, blacksmiths, barbers, dress makers, bakers, and general traders. In the time of the early Sumerians and Egyptians, there was evidence of organised structures of civilisation within specific geographic boundaries. People grouped together and town planning was originally practiced mainly by the priesthood in the early civilisations, such as the ones established in Greece, Persia and the Roman Empire. City states developed all over Europe during the Renaissance era and city planners spent a great deal of time and resources to add to the aesthetic value of buildings and public areas within the city boundaries. This marked the beginning of...

How Town Planners Assist in Land Consolidation and Sub-Division Applications

Town planners offer an array of professional services to government institutions, municipalities, developers, and property owners alike, including advice regarding land consolidation, sub-division and rezoning. . Where a developer needs to have land use zoning rights changed, such as the zoning allowing for live entertainment in a restaurant located within a residential area where no such right exist, then the developer makes use of town planning specialists such as The Practice Group to prepare and submit such an application where merit exists. In another instance a developer may have acquired two or more adjacent properties, which the developer wants to have consolidated to create a site assembly for say a residential estate. Having the estate span over four properties comes with various legal pitfalls. As such, consolidation is needed and for this the land consolidation services offered by town planners become essential. Consolidation of agricultural land is often required to create economically viable pieces of land for commercial farming practices. In other instances such site assemblies may be required for development of a recreational resort. The town planner may assist in procuring the authorization to do so. Sub-division of land is basically the opposite of consolidation. In such an instance, two or more parcels of land are formed by further dividing a single portion of land. With sub-division and consolidation various factors requires to be considered including access to properties, registered servitudes, current and required zoning, any opposition to such consolidation or sub-division, and environmental factors. Many factors may influence land development initiatives and it is therefore prudent to make use of town planners offering sub-division and land consolidation...

E-Lodgement System: Rural Development And Land Reform

Following the enactment of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act, 2013 (SPLUMA) and the later publication of the regulations thereto, a number of associated initiatives are unfolding which consulting planners require to take note of. As the custodians of SPLUMA, the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Branch of the National Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is also mandated to monitor and support the implementation of the new legislation (more specifically municipal by-laws) by the various municipalities throughout the country. With a view to facilitating inter-governmental participation and relations and to establish appropriate norms and standards for land use management and compliance monitoring, a “Spatial Planning and Information System” was established during 2013 and has been developed and extended over the past 3 years. Given the obligations which now rest on municipalities with regard to municipal by-laws to manage and regulate land development, the national department’s focus has been on assisting municipalities faced with capacity challenges, to receive and process land development applications. For such purpose a system for the electronic lodgement of land development applications has been developed by the National Department. Called the E-lodgement system, the new planning tool is a word based product to be used by land development applicants to lodge land development applications by completing pro forma documents online, uploading supporting information and procuring cadastral information, zoning information, land use scheme provisions and related data. This culminates in the compilation of a compliant application and the lodgement thereof with the relevant authority (municipality). Whilst the system is currently limited to the Free State Province and certain parts of the Northern...