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 level to provide the framework for development to ensure easy access to economic opportunities, whilst also reducing the impact on the environment and the need for more land.

Various acts are relevant to land use schemes and strategic urban and regional planning. Such acts include, but are not limited to the South African Constitution, National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, 1977 (Act 103 of 1977), the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, 2000, Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act of 1970, Township Establishment Act of 1991, Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act, 2013 and the National Environmental Management Act of 1998 and their amendments.

Land use zoning forms part of the planning process and scheme maps are in place for various use zones, such as permitted land uses and prohibited land uses. Permitted land uses can include low, medium and high density residential zones, commercial zones for businesses and shops, industries which include light and service industries to heavy industries and mining uses, open spaces which may include conservation land, privately owned and active type open spaces, educational, agricultural and administration and mixed uses.

At a technically detailed level, factors such as floor area ratios, building heights, coverage percentages, density provisions, side and rear spaces, parking areas and control overlays are all regulated in terms of a town planning or land use management scheme.

Municipalities benefit from our expertise in strategic, as well as urban and regional planning to assist them to reach their strategic goals and grant land use rights in accordance with the relevant legislation.