Urban Planning Terminology Explained

Town or urban-planning terminology can be confusing. It may even feel as if the municipality is trying its best to obscure the meaning of terms, but the truth is that the information is readily available. We want you to make informed decisions regarding town and urban planning. As such, we briefly explain some of the words and phrases frequently encountered with development, township establishment, and zoning applications.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

This refers to the procedure followed according to the requirements of the National Environmental Management Act No.107 of 1998 (NEMA) to procure environmental authorisation to conduct a certain activity to be performed on a specific piece of land. This permission is obtained from the national or provincial authority overseeing environmental compliance.

Line of No Access

This is a line on a zoning map that indicates an area on a piece of property where no access may be given from the external road. The line is typically on the border of the piece of land. This type of access restriction is usually relevant to properties located on national or provincial roads.

Right of Way

This is a type of servitude that provides access to one property over another. A servitude can be registered on the property, which guarantees access to another property from the external road system adjacent to the property on which the servitude is registered.

Site-Development Plan

Also known as an SDP in short, this is a plan that shows the whole of a proposed development on a particular piece of property (not to be confused with a building plan). The plan shows where the building structures will be built, where the parking spaces, access routes, landscaping, and building lines will be, and where servitudes are for power lines and right of way. The plan precedes the application for the approval of a building plan on the particular property.


This is a term often used in urban planning to refer to the corner part of a road intersection. The corner splay is when part of the corner component is cut away to make it easier for turning vehicles to move into the intersection between two roads.

Surveyor General Diagram

Known as the SG diagram, this is an approved diagram according to the requirements of the Land Survey Act. The plan or diagram shows the property border, any servitudes on the property, and other subdivisions. It can also be a general plan for a township that shows several stands.

Zoning Certificate

A municipality-issued certificate that indicates that a particular piece of property is subject to specific land-use provisions and restrictions. The certificate serves as a confirmation of the land-use zoning under which the property falls and indicates any restrictions such as limits on coverage, parking, and height.


It is a term used in urban planning to describe the process of amending the land-use scheme to make provision for a change in land-use rights for the said property.


Another term for a property or stand. It indicates the cadastral unit in a proclaimed township that has been surveyed and registered as such at the Surveyor General’s office. The term excludes an agricultural holding or farm portion. Erf usually indicates that the stand forms part of a township.

Conditions of Establishment

In urban planning, the term refers to the municipality-issued document after a township establishment has been approved. It shows the approval of the township and the conditions under which such approval applies.

Bulk-Services Contributions

The phrase refers to the financial contributions that must be made by the applicant for whom the township establishment or rezoning of a particular piece of land has been approved. The contributions are for services that the municipality provides. This ensures that the applicant carries the costs of the services instead of other ratepayers.

Group Housing

In urban planning, it refers to a group of more than two dwellings to be erected with uniform appearance and which can be registered as full-title or sectional-title properties.

Integrated Development Plan (IDP)

The municipality’s policy document that stipulates the vision of the municipality for development in relation to specific criteria. The plan is for a 5-year period and is used to give direction to municipal spending in terms of development and also to ensure spending is within the allocated budget.

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