THE PRACTICE GROUP BLOG

Basic Elements of Site-Development Plans

Site-development plans are documents that detail the plans for specific sites or an assembly of sites. They are submitted to the city council to approve prior to the submission of building plans and prior to the development of a parcel of land. A site development plan provides a holistic illustration of what development or redevelopment is envisaged without the technical detail of a building plan. The city council evaluates the site-development plans to determine whether they are in line with zone regulations. They must therefore be detailed and include information on its use, structure type, location, size, accessibility, parking, materials used, and more. In order to obtain the required building permits (approved building plans), developers must submit the relevant site-development plans. They are, however, not needed for improvements or changes to single-family homes, so a homeowner does not have to submit one to get permission for the addition of a granny flat or a swimming pool, for example. Elements of a particular site range from its vegetation and topography to its culture and infrastructure. Site-development plans must thus indicate the current conditions of sites, as well as the proposed changes. Some of the essential elements of such plans are briefly outlined below, giving you an indication of their comprehensiveness. Boundaries and Building Lines The property boundaries indicate the configuration, locality, and extent of the property. The property boundaries are important cadastral lines, since the developer cannot build over these lines. As such, land surveying must be done to provide accurate property boundaries to be included on the site-development plan. While these lines indicate the boundary of the property, development... read more

The Role of Transportation Planning in Urban and Rural Infrastructure Design

Transportation planning as a discipline is closely related to land-use management and planning. Though it stands on its own, it has now also become part of urban and land-use planning. Transportation cannot exist as an isolated concept and can only function in relation to other planning disciplines. Urban design and living, however, are intertwined with transportation. Goods must be transported from ports to cities in the interior of the country, products must be distributed in the most efficient way, and people must get to their places of employment using the most efficient and least-congested roads. Good accessibility to various areas of the urban environment and the towns, cities, and rural areas surrounding it is very important. Roads must be planned to ensure good access from people’s homes to their work, recreational facilities, education, and hospitals. Good accessibility reduces the time people spend commuting to work and as such, mobility is improved. With the growing trend to develop sustainable cities, transportation planning must include infrastructure planning for cyclists, pedestrians, and rapid-transit public transport to reduce congestion, reduce road accidents, and minimise the impact of human activity on the environment. People with disabilities, those without driving licences, and senior citizens must be considered to ensure that they enjoy the best possible access to and can participate in as many as possible economic activities. The increased awareness of healthy living and the benefits of walking necessitated a new approach to urban transportation planning. It must be possible for people to walk in safety, enjoy their physical activities, and experience as little air pollution as possible while doing so. Transportation planning entails the... read more

Urban and Regional Planning

Why Urban and Regional Planning Is Essential to Prevent Unorganised Development Urban and regional planning is a combined discipline with the only difference between the two being the scale and geographical areas affected. As such, the same professionals are involved in both processes. An urban area is within the administrative boundary of a city or town, whilst a regional area comprises the region in which a city or town and its satellite towns exist. Urban and regional planning entails technical, economic, and political processes focused on the design and implementation of land use policies. It makes provision for the development of infrastructure, such as roads, waterways, drainage, lights, electricity supply, refuse removal, recreational areas, educational facilities, and more. Urban and regional planning includes the consideration of factors such as air space, water resources, impact on the environment, and community needs in the development of human settlements. The focus is on the physical layout of urban and regional infrastructure to ensure public welfare. To this end, all factors that affect the wellbeing, quality of life, and ability to economically and socially function are considered. For a community to function properly within the area of a city, there must be road infrastructure, buildings for schools and government services, medical facilities, law enforcement offices, parks, and sports facilities. There must also be sanitation and public transport where the community members do not have their own means of transport. Effective urban and regional planning thus considers all of the above factors. With so many factors affecting public welfare, urban planners do not work in isolation. They work closely with engineers, surveyors, architects, environmental... read more

Strategic Development Planning

The Importance of Urban Strategic Development Planning Urban strategic development planning aims to determine which model is needed to ensure that energy and resources are spent in the right places. It involves the coordination of private and public efforts towards creating the desired outcome. Why Is Urban Strategic Development Planning Necessary? With rapid urbanisation, cities and towns reach their resource and infrastructure limits in managing the increase in population. Urban strategic development planning is an effective tool for addressing such challenges. The urban strategic development planning approach enables the management of the changes in the area. With such, it is possible to improve the quality of life of the residents. Since people move in and out of urban spaces, it is not possible to just follow the approach once. It is as dynamic and flexible as the movement of the people in the city, since it must reflect the changes within the urban environment. Part of the strategic development planning process entails decisions regarding growth goals for the various areas. The decisions include, but are not limited to, determining how to improve quality of life and protect such, and how to use and protect the current economic base of the city. What Makes for a Comprehensive and Effective Urban Strategic Planning Process? Many factors combine to add to the success or failure of the urban strategic development planning process. For one, the plan focuses on the future and aims to predict how the urban environment could look and function within a specific period of time, such as a decade from now. The planning process will determine the development approach... read more

Land Use Management

Land Use Management – Applying for Changes and Permissions Land use management entails a set of legal regulations related to land with the aim of achieving organised and desirable use of the built area. Every plot and developed property in an urban area is, therefore, subject to various regulations regarding development. These land use management regulations relate to the zoning of the area and the particular property. Such zoning is stipulated in the particular town-planning scheme. It stipulates allowable land uses, coverage, servitudes, building lines, maximum floor space, etc. Each city has its own town-planning scheme in line with the land use management policies of the larger municipality, province, and national land use management policies. A specific city can have various town-planning schemes, relevant to various areas in the urban area. It is thus essential to study the land use management policies related to a specific area before attempting to develop properties, sub-divide such, or consolidate land. The land use management policies are important regardless of whether you want to develop a guest farm, holiday resort, shopping centre, or residential estate. However, you also need to study the title deed of a particular property to be developed. The title deed may have various restrictions related to the development of the property. Once done, you need to look at related legislation, such as the National Building Regulations, various municipal bylaws, and public health and safety regulations. Regardless of the overall land use management policies relevant to the particular area, if the development does not comply with any of the regulations, then it is illegal and prosecution may follow according to... read more

Town Planners

Town Planners’ Advice on Property Sub-Division in South Africa Sub-division of residential or commercial property is often done with the purpose of selling the portions in order to make a profit. However, doing it wrong can lead to delays in getting permission. In addition, one can also suffer severe financial losses as the result of incorrect procedures followed. To this end, it is essential to make use of the services offered by town planners in helping to ensure the seamless sub-division of property. What Is a Sub-Division of Property? It is a formal process whereby one piece of land, whether such is agricultural, commercial, industrial, or residential, is divided into more than one portion. This is normally done with the help of professionals, such as town planners and land surveyors. Factors to Consider It is important to consider the size of the land. The land use management policies, in addition to zoning regulations of a particular area, may prevent you from dividing a property into smaller pieces because the size of the land is not sufficient to meet the minimum requirements. A plot of 2 000 m2 in one suburb can, for instance, be divided into four stands. In another area, the restriction on the land’s size may limit you to dividing the plot into two plots of no smaller than 1 000 m2 each. In yet another area, you may be prohibited from dividing the stand because it is already of the minimum size. The area where the piece of land is located thus plays an important role. To this end, town planners will examine the zoning regulations... read more

Spatial Planning

The Connection Between Spatial Planning and Sustainable Land Use Management To understand how spatial planning relates to sustainable land use management, it is essential to understand the function of spatial planning. In essence, the latter is a function performed in the public sector regarding the distribution of land use activities in a particular geographical area. What Is Spatial Planning? It entails the organisation of spaces and the uses thereof. It is essential to create a balance between the demands for spatial development and the protection of the land in use. Social and economic objectives should be attained while using land effectively, as opposed to stripping the land or spoiling it for future generations. Spatial planning, if the right principles are followed, helps to improve quality of life and ensures sustainable economic and social development. It is a method whereby the public sector ensures the distribution of activities and people according to a plan (typically a Spatial Development Framework) for improvement in the organisation of the social, structural, and economic development of communities. It involves various disciplines and includes aspects of urban planning, transportation planning, and land use management. It can take place on various levels – local, national, or international. The focus of modern spatial planning is to encourage sustainable development. The latter is development that minimises the environmental impact whilst meeting the needs of current and future communities. As such, it also entails the distribution and use of resources to ensure equal distribution amongst the communities in a specific region, province, or country. What Is Land Use Management? In the simplest of terms, it is the regulation of... read more

Urban Planning

What Is the Role of Modern Urban Planning in South Africa? Urban planning entails the focused design and management of space usage as related to economic activities, physical presence, and social impact of human activities on the particular urban environment. Urban planning involves professional urban planners, policy makers, engineers, land surveyors, architects, attorneys, public relations officers, and more. It also involves public participation, as the communities affected by urban planning policies and goals have the right to make objections and be involved in how their spaces are developed. Urban planning covers open land and land already in use. It covers the setting of development goals, the collection of relevant data for decision-making regarding development, the analysis thereof, projections, public participation, and the implementation of plans. It is both a political and technical process whereby the land use is planned as related to water, infrastructure, soil, minerals, and air directly related to the town or city environment. It includes the planning of communication, networks, transportation, service delivery, and more. It also includes the creation of plans based on the available resources and infrastructure. Considerations include the need for sanitation, transport, education, healthcare, religion, and housing infrastructure. Urban planning can thus not be seen as a standalone activity, since the infrastructure and activities mentioned affect all areas of human living in built-up city environments. The physical layout and infrastructure associated with human activities and settlements are the focus points of urban planning. The main objectives are to ensure quality of life, public wellbeing, economic activity, and resource management. Urban design or spatial planning is closely related to urban planning. The orderly... read more

Strategic Development Planning

Modern-Day Strategic Development Planning Challenges in South Africa More than 3,3 billion people live in towns and cities around the world and it is expected that more than 5 billion citizens will live in urban areas a decade from now. Therefore, in future, most structural growth will take place around cities. You just have to look at the challenges that South African cities face to understand the importance of strategic development planning for sustainable urban areas of the future. A trend that has become rather noticeable over the past few years and that is a pressing concern for professionals involved in strategic development planning is the growth of megacities. What do we mean? Think Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Midrand, and you will have an idea of how cities grow into each other, thus creating megacities. The same is true when thinking of the Western Cape. Not too many years ago, there were fewer than 12 such megacities worldwide. Such cities had populations of more than a million each. However, it is estimated by the United Nations that by the year 2030, there will be more than 490 such cities with populations of one million or more each. One of the strategic development planning challenges of today is to minimise the environmental footprint of such large cities. In addition, the large-scale poverty often experienced in such cities because of high unemployment rates, as experienced in South Africa, leads to various social, economic, and political conflict situations. More and more poor people find their way to cities in South Africa. These people mainly come from rural areas. With limited infrastructure and environmental... read more

Urban Development

Smart Cities Are the Future of Urban Planning and Development Urban development entails all the elements of design that lead to the creation of the city’s environment and structure. As such, urban development design affects the following: • Buildings • Streets • Landscape • Transport • Public spaces In the simplest form, urban design coordinates and combines the above and other elements into a coherent development, which can be called a city or town. It is what civilizations have done from the earliest of times. When it comes to smart city or smart urban development, innovative approaches are followed to bring the elements together. Smart urban development is not only focused on design to reduce traffic congestion. Instead, it is an approach to urban development to ensure the sustainability of all structures, resource usage, and healthy living and interaction with the surrounding environment. The essential components of smart urban design and development are briefly discussed below, giving you a glimpse into the future urban environments of the world. Research & Analytics Without all the relevant data, the smart city is simply not possible. The smart urban environment collects data with the use of technology. The problem is how to use the data to improve the urban environment. You need to identify problems such as too many cyclist injuries or too slow reaction times of emergency response teams. Now that you know which problems to solve, the next challenge is to make sense of the data collected. This is the analysis phase. The smart city development concept also entails the collection of data about everything that forms part of city... read more

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