What to Do If You Want to Apply for Zoning Changes or Approval for Building Plans

It is important to understand that the Provincial Administrations and relevant Ordinances govern the town planning for each specific area. What is allowed in one council or municipality may not be allowed in another, and the same applies to regulations in the various provinces. Accordingly, there are certain procedures that a town planning and property development consultancy has to follow when they apply, on behalf of the client, for approval of development and building plans, or approval of zoning changes.

The local municipalities are responsible for managing the land use in their jurisdiction. As such, there are specific zoning and land use rights in place in each municipal area. A person, for example, cannot simply open a commercial business in a residential area if the property is not zoned for commercial use. Moreover, any structural changes to a sectional title unit, for instance, cannot commence if the sectional title plan has not been amended to allow for such, and if the local authority has not yet provided the necessary approval for these alterations.

In order to convert the residential home into a full commercial office, the developer or business owner must apply for changes in the zoning to allow for such. Certain usage restrictions must therefore be lifted. This is where the expertise of town planning and property development consultants is useful as they can provide the client with details regarding the rezoning process and the timeframe in which such normally takes place.

Residential buildings, sectional title units, such as housing schemes, townhouse complexes, and so forth can be built in residential zones. Land in open space zones may be used, for instance, as parks, cemeteries, sports facilities, etc. Land in commercial zones may be used for office complexes, retail centres, etc. To open a clinic or erect a church, the developer must ensure that community and institutional zoning is in place for the particular area or property.

Warehouses, manufacturing plants, vehicle repair shops, and the likes can only be erected in industrial zones. Farms and small holdings fall within the agricultural zones, while transport zones are in place for roads, railway lines and public transport. The government zones are specifically in place for the development and erection of government related buildings, while the municipal zones allow for development of facilities such as water treatment plants. Special use zones are also in place where fuel stations can be built.

Before buying a piece of property for development, it is recommended that you approach town planning and property development consultants to handle the due diligence process in which the consultants look at the current land use rights on the property and your intended land use. They will be able to tell you whether the property can be used for your intended purpose or if you will need to apply for rezoning, as well as the costs and time involved.

The town planners will handle the application for the proposed building changes or development on your behalf. They will collect the relevant forms and help you obtain the necessary supporting documentation needed for approval. Once the application has been reviewed for completeness the officer at the municipality or council issues a reference number. The town planners will furthermore publish the necessary notifications and handle the public participation process where relevant on your behalf.

The application will be reviewed by affected parties, such as your immediate neighbours, community members, the homeowner’s association (HOA), etc. The application is also reviewed by various local government offices and comments submitted.

If one of the interested or affected parties objects to the alterations or application for rezoning, you will have the chance to respond. This is another function that the town planning and property development consultants will handle on your behalf. The development proposal can still be changed in response to objections. Once the objections have been dealt with or the proposal changed to address such, the application is again assessed and the final decision is given.

If you are not happy with the outcome of the application, you can lodge an appeal, which is also best handled by the appointed town planner. Call on our experts for advice and assistance in applying for rezoning and approval of building plans or a development.