Every property has specific usage rights that apply to it. The title deed may have certain restrictions while the property also falls within a specific zoning category. If you, for instance, have a large residential stand, but want to build a warehouse on it, you need to have it rezoned for the category of intended industrial use.

What if you, for instance, buy a closed-down fuel station forecourt? Can you use it as a residential abode or school? The answer is no – unless it is rezoned to allow for it to be used for the new purpose. Don’t assume because a property has an empty warehouse that you can convert the warehouse to a house. If the piece of land lies within an industrial-zoned area, you will have to get it rezoned if you, for instance, want to use it as your home or even as a commercial retail centre.

To rezone a property means the piece of land is reclassified to fall within a new zone according to the restrictions and land use rights of the zone. Perhaps you don’t want something as drastic as rezoning an industrial-zoned land to residential. You may want to sub-divide your residential stand into four stands and sell three of the stands. If the land is zoned for residential 1, you will still have to apply for its rezoning to the appropriate classification that allows for higher density or smaller stands.

To better answer the question of “what it means to rezone a property?” let’s first consider the meaning of zoning.


The Definition of Zoning

Zoning entails the classification of land according to the land use rights applicable to the specific type of zone. A municipality is zoned into districts. The buildings and these zoned districts have certain regulations in relation to their structures and for what these buildings are used. Zoning ordinances restrict a district to, for instance, usage for industrial, commercial, or residential. The categories have subcategories, such as Residential 1 or 2. The goal is to ensure that a specifically zoned area retains its characteristics.

Zoning makes it possible to ensure the organisation of the urban space and enables orderly development. With the regulations in place, the property owners have the assurance that the characteristics of the particular area stay the same. The value of properties in a quiet and upmarket residential area is, for instance, negatively affected if a recycling plant is built in the area. Traffic can increase and the residential character changes.

Zoning is done with consideration of the future of the urban development. Road infrastructure, storm drainage systems, traffic control, water supply, and more must be planned for to meet the usage needs of the communities in the particular areas.

To rezone a property can have little to no effect on the character of the zoned area. However, should it be rezoned to a different category such as industrial within a residential area, it certainly will have a tremendous impact on the area. If, however, a developer wants to build four houses on a single property only zoned for one to a maximum of two dwellings, then the property must be rezoned.


The Rezoning Process

Although more complex than explained below, to rezone a property entails an application to the relevant division of the local authority (municipality). The process can take up to 48 months, and in some instances longer. The applicant must submit the required plans and documents that include the reason why they want to rezone the property. After the submission of the report, the applicant has to publish a notice of their intention in the Government Gazette. Members of the public will have time to object. The town planning division will review the detailed report and the objections from the public, where after the council and provisional committees will award or reject the application.

For sub-division of the land, the applicant will have to submit the plans for the sub-division and a detailed report that includes the reason for the sub-division to the city council. They also have to notify their neighbours of the intention to sub-divide and advertise it. Once approval is given by the neighbours, the city council still has the final say on awarding or rejecting the sub-division application.

Given the complexity of the applications for land consolidation, sub-division, and rezoning, it is best to work with experienced town planners from the initial planning phases. Get in touch for expert guidance and help if you want to rezone a property in Gauteng.