New Planning Bill out

The Gauteng Department of Economic Development has recently released the Gauteng Planning and Development Bill and Regulations for comments. This bill is set to replace the old act with the same title of 2003, which was never enacted, due to the Regulations not being promulgated. This act will change the face of town planning procedures in Gauteng for ever, due to the fact that it will consolidate a wide range of development applications into a single process. It will in some respects also make development processes easier.

The GPDA will repeal the following Acts, in asfar as they are applicable in Gauteng:

Transvaal Board for the Development of Peri-Urban Areas Ordinance, Ord 20 of 1943;
Town Planning & Townships Ordinance, Ord 15 of 1986;
Division of Land Ordinance, Ord 20 of 1986;
Gauteng Removal of Restrictions Act, Act 3 of 1996;
Gauteng Planning & Development Act, Act 2 of 2003.

The GPDA is losely structured on the process of the Development Facilitation Act, 1995, which functions mainly through a system of Tribunals. The one diffence is that the role of Local Municipalities is not marginalised as with the DFA. The Act will make provision for the creation of Municipal Development Tribunals on local level and Provincial Development Tribunals on the second tier of government. These bodies will function similar to the earlier Section 80 Committees in the Municipality and the Townships Board on a provincial level.

Unopposed applications for development will be decided by the Municipal Manager, almost identical to the present Ordinance applications. However, in the event of a Municipal Manager not supporting an application or if the application is opposed by other authorities or the public, the matter will be referred to the Municipal Development Tribunal for a hearing and decision. Any party that is agrieved by the decision of a Municipal Development Tribunal or the lack of performance of a Municipal Manager, may refer an application to the Provincial Development Tribunal for a decision.

The GPDA distinguishes between various levels of applications, namely:

a. Development applications that include:

Establishment of townships;
Extension of boundaries of existing townships;
The rezoning of land;
Removal, amendment or suspension of title restrictions;
Amendment of a township's General Plan; and
Closure of roads of public places.

b. Land use applications include:

The amendment of Conditions of Establishment of a township;
The subdivision and simultaneous subdivision and consolidation of land;
Consent or approval in terms of any existing town planning scheme or title conditions;
Any other matter prescribed.

c. Establishment of a Settlement:

An application for a settlement is primarily for informal housing and is exempted from the normal procedure as prescribed for a township establishment.

d. Minor Applications, which must be decided within 35 days, include:

Relaxation of conditions relating to the use and developing of land, ie building lines, etc;
Variation of conditions relating to the above;
Approval or amending of any plan (ie SDP) prior to the use or development of land (but excluding building plans);
Consolidation of land.

Note that this Bill is still not proclaimed and subject to public particiaption. Furthermore, it will only apply to the province of Gauteng and that all Ordinances mentioned above will still apply to other provinces constituting the former Transvaal, unless repealed by other provincial legislation.