The local authorities of cities and towns in South Africa are responsible for the management of land-use rights in their areas of control. To this end, they implement zoning schemes, which provide the rules and regulations for the permitted use and development of properties. If you want to change or add use rights to your specific property, you must apply to the local city council for permission to do so. This is done with the help of town planners.

Understanding the Existing Rights on Your Property

The specific municipality within which the property is located has certain zoning regulations. Commercial, residential, agricultural, and industrial land-use rights, for instance, exist for particular areas and properties. Specific usage entitlement applies to each zone type.

Where to Find Out What Zoning Is Applicable to Your Property

Visit your local district-planning office or have professional town planners review the zoning map for the town or municipal area. The town planners will be able to tell you exactly in which zoning category your property falls and which usage and development permissions are applicable to it. You may want to develop the property or utilise it for a purpose not allowed for in the zoning scheme relevant to the area. In this instance, you need to apply for consent usage or rezoning of the property to allow such development or activities.

How to Apply for Additional Rights, Consent Use, or Changes in Zoning

The city council’s development-management division must approve the addition or the new or changed usage and development rights. You may, for instance, need to apply for rezoning or only for occasional, or perhaps consent use. The town planners will be able to assist in deciding which application to submit.

Basic Explanation of Applicable Terms

The title deed of the property may have specific usage restrictions. In order to develop the property according to your plans, you will first have to apply for removal of the restrictive conditions. Where the zoning does not allow for the development or usage of the property for what you have in mind, you must apply for zoning changes or rezoning. This is needed when you want to make significant changes to the usage permissions for the property. If the city council approves it but the property is not developed and utilised according to the changed or newly applied zoning within a specific period, the zoning on the property will revert to the original state.

Consent usage is where the particular usage is allowed in the development-management scheme, subject to the approval of the city council. This provides you with additional usage permissions. These permissions are normally awarded on a permanent basis. You can also apply for temporary land-use consent or departure. This allows for a non-permanent departure from the permitted activity for other land use not listed or provided for in the current development-management scheme. The type of permission is only awarded if no additional infrastructure development will take place and when the property can be restored to its original state once the period has expired. This type of usage permission is usually awarded for a period not exceeding five years.

If awarded, and you do not use or develop the property according to the temporary land-use rights within two years from the date awarded, it is withdrawn. The original zoning status then applies. Occasional land-use rights are awarded for an event of non-permanent nature, such as a circus, crafters’ market, political meeting, or religious event. This type is awarded if the event will not have a negative effect on the property and surroundings. Short-term usage is essential and is awarded according to specific conditions such as time period, the maximum number of people, relevant ablutions, and medical facilities being in place.

Where to Get Help

For a temporary variation of the land use rights, you probably do not need the help of professional town planners. However, when it comes to rezoning applications, consent usage, or additional rights, it is best to seek professional assistance. Meetings with city-council officials, as well as site plans, impact studies, and public-participation processes must all be conducted. Town planners understand the processes and work with such applications on a daily basis.

Give us a call for help in changing land-use rights of your property.