Town Planning: Understand the Basics of Consent Use and Rezoning

Town planning is also referred to as urban or city planning. It entails technical, socio-economic and political processes to make the best use of available land and resources in the design and development of built areas. These resources include water, land, infrastructure and air among others.

The challenge is to create an infrastructure to facilitate transportation, stormwater drainage, recreational spaces, residential areas, sections for commerce and areas for industrial use.

The town planning consultants work closely with professionals like land surveyors, architects, environmental consultants, and engineers to create sustainable urban areas to support the living, working and economic development needs of the communities using the areas.

Property owners, developers and city councils benefit from the expertise offered by town planning consultants. However, for the property owner who wants to sub-divide their property or use an existing piece of land for something other than for which it is zoned, the terminology the city council’s town planning division uses can be quite confusing.

Clients, who make use of the services offered by The Practice Group, benefit from comprehensive information available to help them make informed decisions. The consultants understand the need to explain terminology instead of assuming clients are familiar with urban development concepts. To this end, some of the frequently encountered terms or concepts are briefly explained below.

What is the town planning scheme?

The municipality creates a scheme for land use and allocates zones to each area. This scheme enables the municipality to manage the properties and the public use areas according to a documented framework. One or more of these schemes can be applied to an area that falls within the development boundaries of a particular municipality.

If someone wants to develop a particular piece of land, then they need to inspect the scheme/s applicable to the specific property. This is important as the scheme defines the applicable land use rights for the property.

The following information can be obtained by reviewing the applicable scheme:

  • Land use rights currently applicable to the property.
  • Which land use rights the property doesn’t currently have and which application may be required for the particular development, as consent can be obtained for such from the municipality.
  • Land use rights the property lacks, and for which consent use is not an option.

What is the amendment scheme?

Each property within the municipality’s jurisdiction has specific land use rights assigned to it. For more or other rights than assigned, the owner or developer must apply for consent from the municipality or apply for change of land use rights. Every right added or changed is indicated in the amendment scheme for the particular property.

What is the difference between rezoning and consent use applications?

They provide guidance on the application process, inspect the scheme for the particular property, draw site plans, perform due diligence, handle the public participation process, and submit relevant documents to the local authority on behalf of the applicant. They also follow up on the progress of applications, handle appeals and make sure all required supporting documents are handed in along with the applications. In effect, they make the process of applying for consent use or rezoning easier for the applicant.

What are possible issues with consent use and rezoning applications?

In some instances, title deed restrictions apply to a specific property. These must first be removed, and this can take anything from a few weeks to three or more months if there are no objections. For rezoning, an application that’s not opposed can take 18-24 months, but if opposed it can take years to conclude. Although these may seem challenging, working with an experienced firm enables applicants to avoid costly pitfalls and overcome development challenges.

Where to get help?

Start the process with the right information. Reach out to The Practice Group for professional town planning help regarding property development and land use rights in South Africa.