Words Often Used by Town-Planning Consultants

If you want to open a guesthouse or convert your current residential home into a backpacker’s, you will need the help of town-planning consultants to apply for the necessary zoning amendments and licenses.

Town-planning consultants understand and work with zoning applications and land-use rights daily. They are familiar with the application processes, the requirements for public participation, the documents needed, and more. This is also the case if you want to convert your farm into a holiday resort or want to add another residential building to an existing property that is zoned for one residential building. Below is a brief explanation of terms you can expect to come across in land-use schemes when applying for zoning amendments. These terms are also frequently used by town-planning consultants:

Building Line

It is a virtual line that determines the distance from the property boundary that marks the limits for the development of building infrastructure. With the help of town planning consultants, you can apply for relaxing building lines on a particular property. This means you will be able to build infrastructure beyond the original limits in terms of distance from the property border.

Commercial Use

When town-planning consultants refer to land for “commercial use” they refer to land suitable for storage, distribution centres, warehousing, and related facilities. These types of facilities include wholesale centres, computer centres, and labs, as well as transport depots. In certain instances, the land-use scheme permits the use of the land for offices or light industry, subservient to the main use of commercial.

Consent use

If you want to use a residential property for say a pre-school/crèche, you may apply for consent use. It is a right to use the property for a purpose other than for which it is zoned. The zoning stays in place but you can use part of it for another purpose. Upon the consent use not being exercised, the original residential zoning remains in place.


The area taken up by a building structure on a particular property is known as the coverage. It is shown as a percentage of the surface area covered. If the coverage is 30% of a 1000-m2 stand, 300 m2 of the stand’s area may be covered by building structures.


You will need the help of town-planning consultants to apply for the right to use a residential building for accommodating paying guests. To qualify as a guesthouse, a maximum number of rooms, as specified by the specific municipality, may be used for short-term accommodation. The guesthouse can include a conference facility, bar, and other facilities for exclusive use by the paying guests. It may also be a requirement to have a manager at the property at all times.

Industry or Industrial Use

Land zoned for industrial use. Such uses include manufacturing, product assembly, packaging, and processing. It may also include property used for electricity generation.

Office Use or Offices

Buildings suitable and zoned for administrative, marketing, and professional use. Call centres are excluded.

Parking Ratio

This refers to the number of parking spaces per 100 m2 of the floor area of a building (say an office building). If it is a restaurant, the parking ratio refers to the number of parking spaces in relation to a set number of chairs/seats.

Title Restriction

As town-planning consultants can explain, this refers to a restrictive condition placed on a property as stipulated in the title deed. It can be a restriction on the subdivision, type of building material, or the number of dwellings on the said property.


The allowable land use of a property within the area falling within a land use scheme. The municipal office has a range of scheme maps with several colours or shades denoting the different zones. Land uses may range from Residential 1 to Industrial 1. Each zoning category is defined and confirms what may (or may not) be developed on the property.

Take the guessing out of license, land-use management, and zoning applications. Make use of our town-planning consultants to help you with such applications.