Town Planning and Development – A Continuing Need in South Africa

Despite a gradual decline in the annual population growth rate since the mid-’90s, the overall trend in South Africa continues to be an upward one and, based upon UN estimates, the figure stood at 55 323 389 on April 3, 2017. Of these, more than 35 million, or almost 65%, are living in the nation’s towns and cities. Many who have fled their rural origins in search of work are now housed in sub-standard accommodation while others live in informal settlements on the outskirts, creating a growing challenge for town-planning and development specialists, particularly in Gauteng. While there is clearly an urgent need to make good the housing shortage, this is not a simple matter of acquiring a suitable piece of land and building a few rows of affordable homes. If it is to be successful, any plan must focus on the ultimate goal, which is to build a new community. This can only be achieved by identifying each of the features that are deemed essential to ensure an acceptable quality of life, and devising practical and cost-effective ways in which to fulfil them. A typical new township, for instance, should make provision for commercial as well as residential premises, so as to eliminate the need to travel lengthy distances for, at least, the more essential, day-to-day products and services. If it is large enough, there may be a requirement to include facilities such as a school and a church, while some shared green space, a community centre and possibly a sports stadium can all serve to encourage interaction and to promote the feeling that its residents rent or...

Defining the Main Responsibilities of Today’s City Planning Consultants

Only on comparatively rare occasions does the opportunity arise to assist in the development of a brand-new town from scratch. In practice, much of the time, the more likely task of the nation’s city planning consultants is to research and develop the most effective manner in which to extend, to renovate, or to re-purpose some portion of an existing settlement. While sound, practical buildings and efficient infrastructure are important, the process is far more than an exercise in draughtsmanship and civil engineering. Whether developing small towns or sprawling modern cities, first and foremost, these are human settlements. As a result, the needs and opinions of the community must play a key role in the design of each project, as must its possible impact on the surrounding environment. The first step in any plan is to gather as much relevant information as possible. In this case, the process is one that relies heavily on joint participation between the local residents, whose opinions will be crucial to the formulation of meaningful objectives, and the city planning consultants. Determining just what may or may not be relevant is a skill that builds with experience. It could involve something as simple as checking with utility companies and municipalities to determine patterns of movement in the area under study. A tendency for new residents to remain in the area for only brief periods could, for instance, draw attention to a lack of suitable facilities for socialising or an inadequate public transport service. Alternatively, the current traffic system may be causing chronic congestion during peak hours or perhaps high-density living is leading to an increased...

Share & Share Alike

With the advent of municipal by-laws regulating spatial planning and land use management matters, a number of municipalities have indicated that, when land development applications are given notice of to interested and affected parties, and when the document bundles and plans lie for inspection during the notice period, the municipality will not provide copies of such documents to those who enquire and those who intend to raise objections or make representations.Whilst the sharing of documents is a well-known and established practice within the law profession, the Association is aware of a number of incidents where the responsible planning consultants have been reluctant to make the documents available upon request. The responsible planning consultants are therefore approached to make the documents available to interested and affected parties. Members of the Association are kindly reminded of the Code of Conduct of the SAACPP, read with the Code of Conduct of the South African Council for Planners. Also, members of the SAACPP are reminded that, to withhold the documents under your control (acting for the land development applicant) may potentially be to the detriment of your client in the longer term as, when the matter proceeds to hearing, opposing parties may argue that the full complement of documents relevant to the application was never available to them and, as a result, they were hampered in the preparation for the hearing. There are various examples where, under such circumstances, the Municipal Planning Tribunal or Planning Committee or Townships Board or similar body has granted a postponement and has directed the parties to exchange documents to the extent required. The underlying principle in this...