Advantages of Land Use Management and Spatial Planning

Land use management and planning thereof, make it possible to allocate land in a way that promotes balanced environmental, social, and economic development and activities. For any land use management to be effective, the communities affected, role-players, and stakeholders alike must work together to ensure the social and economic development needs can be met with minimum impact on the environment and important resources.

It has several advantages for people using the land, future generations, economic development of regions and the country, and the environment. Some of these advantages are briefly discussed below, giving an indication of why sustainable approaches have become so important around the world.

The Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act of 2013, also known as SPLUMA, provides a national framework and legislation for effective land use management throughout South Africa. The framework is also relevant to rural areas and informal settlements, which have become part of the urban landscape.

Zoning has always played an important role. However, widespread discontent over the exclusion of poorer communities from enjoying access to transport, closer proximity to their workplaces, much-needed services, and more, has given rise to the need for a more inclusive and sustainable approach. With SPLUMA, legislation is in place to help govern policies to ensure for a more inclusive, equitable, and environmentally and economically sustainable use of land throughout the country. Benefits include:

Improve Current and Future Certainty

Without set plans and policies in place within a larger framework for land use planning and usage, development takes place without set goals. As a result, affected parties and stakeholders won’t have certainty about the infrastructure development that needs to take place. Stakeholders require certainty for investment purposes and communities, for instance, want the assurance that the areas in which they have bought residential properties will retain their residential characters for years to come.

Conflict Management

With a larger framework for planning and management together with legislation, it is possible to manage conflict that exists or develops in relation to land and resource usage. With such in place, an integrated approach to planning and resource allocation can be followed. It becomes easier to identify potential areas of compromise between economic development, social well-being, and the preservation of the environment.

Increase in Stakeholder Participation

Instead of following a top-down approach wherein the interests of affected communities and stakeholders are often compromised for the sake of strategic development management goals, a process of public participation is followed.

Protect Available Resources

A balance must be reached between the needs of communities, economic development, and the protection of the available resources. For the most part, it is not possible to ensure that available resources will be available over the long-term if legislation and policies are not in place to ensure sustainable usage of such. With careful management, it is possible to reduce urban sprawl whilst improving the living and working conditions within the urban environment.

Better Control Over the Socio-Economic Activities

With it in place, improved planning can take place for infrastructure development that includes everything from transport infrastructure to the creation of relaxation areas, industrial precincts, housing, and more. The impact of socio-economic development on the environment can be managed while the costs for travelling to and from work can, for instance, be reduced. Pollution can be reduced and thereby the risk of health issues related to exposure to the pollutants.

Identify the Most Beneficial Use of Land

Instead of uncontrolled housing settlements and infrastructure development in reaction to such, it is possible to create a larger plan for resource usage. This can be done on the basis of proper investigation and well-researched information. To this end, the pollution of a river that runs through an informal settlement can be prevented. Areas can be set aside for such settlements where water can be supplied by the relevant municipality. The settlements can be closer to a light industrial area where work opportunities and major public transport routes exist.

In Conclusion

With SPLUMA in place, the municipalities in South Africa have legislation according to which they can manage land use. This includes aspects such as legislation regarding building plans, usage of properties in accordance with the relevant zoning, and the minimisation of encroachments of property boundaries. This legislation helps to create more uniformity in the land use management and spatial planning of the municipalities.