Media Statement: Western Cape Land Use Planning Bill, 2013
14 January 2013
The need for a modernized and efficient system of land use planning which facilitates sustainable development in the Province will be addressed through the enactment of the Western Cape Land Use Planning Bill, 2013.
Western Cape Government Environmental Affairs and Development Planning after a series of consultative processes with other key stakeholders such as organized local government, the National Department of Rural Development and Land Reform as well as planning industry stakeholders has released the draft bill for comment.
A series of workshops will be hosted at which time interested and affected stakeholders are welcome to present their views on the bill to the Western Cape Government Environmental Affairs and Development Planning. The bill has been necessitated by the rapidly changing legal framework which has and continues to inform land use planning.
Key judgments by the Supreme Court of Appeals as well as the High Courts are clarifying the role of the Provincial sphere of government in terms of land use planning decisions. Against this backdrop the Land Use Planning Bill, 2013 will give content to the constitutional division between the two spheres of government and will ensure stability in the sector.
The Bill makes provision for development management which regulates the manner in which municipalities compile and approve zoning schemes and zoning scheme by-laws. This essentially guides the two spheres of government on how the various instruments for development management should be implemented.
Municipalities will be provided with an overall framework within which to adopt their own rules on how to use instruments of development management. The competence for the removal of title deed restrictions, which currently reset with the provincial sphere, will become the competence of the local sphere in line with the Constitution.
While clarity will be created in terms of competence between the spheres, the Bill makes provision for certain planning decisions to be concluded on the basis of public participation and through a process of information gathering conducted in terms of other applicable legislation.
The facilitation of this process is outlined in the framework on the integration of multiple procedures applicable to a single development. This will be achieved through the use of interdepartmental agreements or even integrated authorisations significantly decreasing the regulatory burden during the processes.
Provision has been integrated into the Bill for decisions to be regulated by the Competent Authority (Provincial Minister) for developments which affect the interest of the Province. The approval of the Competent Authority will be sought in instances when the scale of the development has an impact which transcends municipal boundaries. It also applies when the development directly impacts the Provincial government’s constitutional responsibilities with regards to aspects such as the environment, agriculture, and tourism.
The Land Use Planning Bill, 2013 introduces and cements sustainable forward planning for the Province and with the notion to change the status quo in terms of the administration of planning and related processes, will minimize "red tape".
The Bill establishes a system of integrated decision making. An applicant submits one land use application to the responsible municipality. An early assessment is conducted to assess whether the involvement of the Competent Authority is required. If the involvement of the Competent Authority is affirmed, a land use application after approval has been granted by the municipality, is submitted to the Competent Authority who has to conclude a decision within 30 days.
Fundamentally this Bill positions municipalities as the sphere of government that is responsible for adopting a municipal spatial development framework, approving by-laws to regulate planning in the municipal areas and deciding on all land use applications in the municipal area.
The provincial government will be responsible for adopting a Provincial Spatial Development Framework and, where applicable, regional spatial development frameworks. Provincial government will also be responsible for regulating, supporting and monitoring municipal land use activities. Land use applications that have a district provincial dimension will be the competence of the Provincial government, however will need both municipal and provincial approval.
The Land Use Planning Bill, 2013 is defined by five objectives:
- It establishes a firm link between forward planning and development management by requiring development management decisions to be aligned with spatial development frameworks.
- It seeks to clarify municipal and provincial roles in land use planning.
- It contextualizes an ‘asymmetric’ planning system which caters for various levels of planning capability.
- It seeks to find a way to manage the impact of land use decisions and land use planning instruments on the provincial interest by providing compulsory provincial comments.
- Seeks to rationalize the current fragmented legislative framework and facilitate mechanisms for integrated applications. The Bill consolidates the various land use control instruments (such as rezoning, subdivision, removal of restrictions, etc) into one provincial menu of instruments that can be addressed in one application to the municipality.