THE PRACTICE GROUP BLOG

Rapid Urbanisation Poses Urban Development Challenges in Gauteng

The rapid urbanisation of South African cities is especially challenging for professionals responsible for the planning of urban development in Gauteng. According to the United Nations Habitat Report, it is estimated that by 2050, more than 1,2 billion people will live in urban areas across the African continent, as opposed to the current estimated 400 million urban dwellers in Africa’s cities. Johannesburg, in Gauteng, is one of the 52 cities on the continent boasting a population of more than one million residents. It is estimated that more than 66% of South Africans already live in urban areas. As the smallest and most densely populated province in South Africa, Gauteng bears the brunt of urbanisation. With a population of around four million people, Johannesburg, especially, faces various urban development challenges. A significant number of people in Gauteng have migrated from places such as Sasolburg, Rustenburg, and Potchefstroom to Gauteng in search of jobs and better living opportunities over the past two decades. People also move towards the urban areas in the province to be closer to services. In 2007, the three metros of Johannesburg, Tshwane, and Ekurhuleni already had a population of more than 8,9 million people according to Stats SA 2007. It is expected that rapid urbanisation in Gauteng will continue in future. According to the information from the 2001 SA Census, Gauteng was home to more than 12,2 million residents at that stage. With the rapid increase in the province’s population, it is essential to address challenges regarding urban development in Gauteng, in order to ensure sustainability of the province. Why the Large Population? Reasons for the high... read more

The Roles and Functions of Town Planners in Gauteng

Town planners in Gauteng operate within the urban and regional planning profession. They focus on making the towns and cities of Gauteng economically, socially, and environmentally viable. The town planners in Gauteng work with local government in the analysis and research of how to improve towns and add new features to the urban areas. They collect relevant data, analyse such, and make recommendations based on their research and analysis to the local officials regarding the balanced and sustainable development of their urban areas. It is important to understand that town planners in Gauteng also provide town planning services to individuals, companies, and non-profit organisations, as well as local government. The profession forms an integral part of urban development. Town planners work with other professionals, such as engineers, architects, environmental consultants, developers, attorneys, land surveyors, quantity surveyors, and project managers, whether for the development of residential estates, sub-division or consolidation of land, or large transport development projects. The role of the town planner is to connect skills and action in such a way so as to ensure the best development and use of land for public and private good. The town planners of The Practice Group in Gauteng have expertise on a wide range of topics. They are qualified and registered with the relevant professional bodies, and they are called upon to recommend policy guidelines for housing, land use management, development design of recreational spaces, planning of transport routes, and more. They conduct research and compile reports on issues related to the use of land and what impact it has on communities and the environment. They review development proposals to... read more

Integrated Development Planning

What is Integrated Development Planning and Why is it Important in South Africa? Integrated development planning is an approach followed by South African local municipalities to plan development in their specific areas. It is a new approach specifically developed to address the problems associated with towns and cities which were developed prior to 1994. Problems with the older development approaches are thus addressed through integrated development planning. The towns and cities of old were racially divided, and planning did not cater for the socio-economic needs of the poorer communities. The poorer sections of the population had to travel long distances to get to their places of work and had limited access to essential business services. There were also discrepancies in the levels of services delivered to the more affluent and poorer areas. Informal settlements developed sporadically during the period just after 1994. A new approach was needed to ensure that the future towns and cities of South Africa would accommodate the needs of the poorer communities as well. Integrated development planning is the new approach followed by municipalities to achieve the objective. With the new approach, the rural areas also receive essential services, in order to overcome the lack of such experienced in the past. Part of integrated development planning is the creation of a master plan called the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) for the long-term development goals of the municipalities. The plan aims to facilitate coordination between the various divisions and levels of government, in order to create a coherent plan for improvement of the quality of living for all residents in a particular municipal area. Integrated development... read more

Due Diligence Investigations

How Due Diligence Investigations Help You to Avoid Property Investment and Development Mistakes Whether you want to buy property with the purpose of developing it into a residential estate, a holiday resort, industrial precinct, or a hotel, you will benefit from making use of town planners to conduct due diligence investigations. Likewise, whether you want to build a community shopping centre, a private school, hockey college, or develop the land for daytime recreational activities, due diligence investigations will help you determine whether the property can be developed for the particular purpose. The due diligence investigations are particularly valuable if conducted prior to purchasing a piece of property, as such help to identify risks and opportunities associated with the particular property and purchase transaction. Whether you are an individual, part of a property consortium, first-time or experienced developer, or perhaps a consultant, you will benefit from the due diligence investigations performed by town planners. If you represent a property investment group, you will also benefit, as the town planners can perform due diligence investigations on all or selected properties in your portfolio to determine risks, opportunities, value, and potential. Armed with the information, you will be able to make informed decisions regarding the future of the properties. The investigations prior to purchase are conducted to determine compliance levels, before you have to commit to the property purchase. Indeed, the purchase offer can be made subject to a full due diligence investigation to determine whether the property meets your particular development requirements. Such investigations are also helpful in assessing which problems to address, and how long it will take to have... read more

Advocacy Town Planning

The Origin and Early Days of Advocacy Town Planning Paul Davidoff first introduced the theory of advocacy town planning during the sixties. The essence of the theory is an approach in which the town planning professionals also want to represent the interests of particular groups. It is a planning theory with a distinctly pluralistic character. As a town planner and activist attorney, Davidoff sought to introduce advocacy planning as an essential element in planning to ensure that the interests of low-income and minority groups would also be considered in town planning. Before the introduction of advocacy planning, professionals within the local governments did all the planning under the guidance of specific commissions. A top-down approach was followed in terms of town planning. In this approach, the planning is carried out without consultation with various interest groups regarding the particular piece of land that is to be developed. Before the Sixties During the Industrial Revolution of the 1920s, town planners in Europe planned in response to the poor living conditions of the factory workers. They focused on the creation of utopia-like urban areas. However, the planning was still top-down, with little consultation, if any, with the people that would be affected by the town planning. Because of this approach, many of the planning projects failed. After World War I and II, town planning was focused on reconstruction. The governments in countries that were affected had the daunting task of reconstructing the cities affected by the wars. An elite corps of town planning experts led the planning processes, resulting in the promotion of interests of the more affluent citizens, and completely... read more

Consolidation of Land

Why You Need Professional Help with Applications for Subdivision and Consolidation of Land If you want to create a large conservancy by combining several farms, you may have to apply for consolidation of land. Likewise, if you want to develop a residential estate or perhaps an industrial or office park on two or more parcels of land, you may have to apply for consolidation of land to enable you to develop the properties on a single piece of land. You may want to create a resort, but in order to do so, you bought two adjacent properties. Due to the nature of the resort, you cannot develop it on two separate properties and this is where the town planning expertise of The Practice Group can be very useful. We will advise you on the process to consolidate land, whether township establishment will be needed, and what zoning rights will apply. It may be more difficult to obtain permission for consolidation of land in a densely populated urban area than consolidating two or more farms for creating a game park. This is the case because land is already scarce in the developed urban area. The opposite may be true when trying to subdivide agricultural land. Subdivision may still be possible if the land is large enough to ensure sustainability, even when subdivided. However, access routes, rights to the use of resources, and other factors come into play. For both subdivision and land consolidation, you will need the help of town planners and other professionals, such as land surveyors. Consolidations and subdivisions entail cadastral surveys. Such surveys must be done when... read more

Five Significant Trends that Affect Town and Regional Planning in South Africa

Modern town and regional planning initiatives focus on addressing the changing demographics of South Africa, the need for sustainability, and the improvement in life quality. Some of the latest trends, which influence modern urban (town) and regional planning, are briefly discussed below. Many Things, One Place We have grown accustomed to large wholesale to public service providers where you can buy anything from electronics to food under one roof. Speciality stores had to make way for all-in-one supermarkets for a while and then resurfaced. However, many of the smaller speciality stores now combine services and offerings. This trend is expected to stay. An example is a barbershop that offers a pub facility or a bakery that combines selling of delectable desserts with cake dining, tea tastings and arts where people paint their own teacups. Town and regional planning experts take note of the trend, whilst municipal authorities must revisit their business licensing policies and regulations to make provision for fusion of services and businesses, such as places where you can enjoy beverages while your car is being serviced or your dog is being groomed. Old Buildings Get Facelifts A sure positive of modern town and regional planning is the focus on inner-city space revival. A wise man once said something to the effect that a city without old buildings is like an old man without memories. This must have rung a bell or two in the town and regional planning corners, as we see more and more buildings being revamped to bring them into the modern age without losing their historical character and value. Many of the old public... read more

Factors Influencing Modern City Planning and Development in South Africa

With over half the world’s population living in cities and projections showing that by the year 2045 more than 6 billion people will stay in urban areas, city planning and development trends focus on the creation of sustainable urban areas. City planning and development in South Africa now focus on the design of urban spaces that will support a higher quality of living for the residents. In order to ensure such developments, the professionals who are tasked with city planning engage in research to identify demographic trends. Below we briefly look at some of the urban trends that influence city planning and development in South Africa. Sustainable Buildings A growing awareness of the need to reduce the human development footprint on the environment also leads to a changing focus on city planning to adapt regulations for buildings. The focus is on the responsible use of natural resources with initiatives such as the incorporation of features to conserve water. Many office parks now include rainwater catchment and recycling features. City planners also consider climate change and, with such in mind, create more green spaces. Mixed-Income Housing Many developments have taken place over the past few years in the cities of South Africa, where areas closer to the business hubs have been developed specifically to cater to the housing needs of the more affluent. With such, especially in places like Cape Town, the lower income groups have been pushed out, making it even more difficult for them to find affordable rental spaces. In addition, they must travel far to get to their places of work. We now see some changes in... read more

Town Planning Companies

Why Developers Need the Services of Experienced Town Planning Consultants Town planning companies provide expert services related to development planning. The town planners coordinate the land use processes, and act as intermediaries with the local council, whereby they represent the interests of their clients. With town planning companies handling the zoning and permission applications on behalf of clients, they save their clients time, frustration, and money. The town planning companies, such as The Practice Group, can thus assist with your development project in the following ways: Provide advice during the project’s design phase We will review and comment on the development plans on aspects such as compliance with local council and statutory regulations. If you involve us from early on, our team of town planners will be able to help you save costs related to plan redrawing and the application process. Draft the application for development As one of the experienced town planning companies in South Africa, we already know which pitfalls to avoid and how to write the application to meet the city council’s expectations. As such, we will submit all the required documents with the application, and thereby prevent delays in the approval of the development. Act as intermediary between you and the council No doubt, you can expect some objections from the public and the town council. We are here to assist with the correspondence to the council, and provide any additional information that the council may request. Our town planners will draft the required responses and give advice to the architects on redrafting of designs to meet the requirements. Where members of the public object... read more

Urban and Regional Planning

Important Principles to Follow in Modern Urban and Regional Planning Cities are pioneering, multifaceted developments that are exhibits of human growth. Consisting of social and economic systems, the urban areas are the hubs of knowledge where skilled people come together. These cities are the centres of employment and drivers of economic wealth. Planning the use of the space to ensure ongoing functionality is therefore essential. Urban and regional planning is the methodological and political process to create towns and cities with consideration of land use, environmental protection, and public welfare. The use of natural resources, patterns of human settlement, and the provision for the development of public spaces all form part of the urban and regional planning process. Rapid urbanisation in South Africa, in line with the international trend towards urbanisation, calls for the application of sound principles in building and developing cities. Below are some of the important considerations in urban and regional planning to create sustainable cities. City planning must follow a liberal and systematic approach to transit facilities for creating optimal flow of traffic. This means that streets, water canals, walk areas, transport facilities, and railroads must be able to accommodate the growing urban population. Main routes and current streets in the city must be used and developed for optimal traffic flow. The secondary routes should then be determined and set based on the circumstances of the neighbourhood. Land and infrastructure use should be controlled effectively to reduce urban sprawl. Existing buildings can be adapted for new use. With such, cities can become more compact, preventing uncontrolled informal settlements and developments to take up more space... read more

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