Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  30 Jan 2009

PROPERTY: Problems For The Players


Recent Western Cape Business News

THERE is an urgent need to rationalise and simplify all legislation involving property rights and land use, says the Cape Town Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

This was necessary as overlapping and sometimes contradictory National and Provincial legislation made the field extremely complex creating huge difficulties for all those involved in the management of land use and zoning schemes. 

Mr Jeremy Wiley, President of the Chamber, said this was the problem at the heart of the confusion over the zoning rights which had lapsed after the Province failed to implement its annual renewal of a clause in the Land Use Planning Ordinance which preserved the development rights of properties zoned before 1985.

He said it was important to understand that it was development rights which gave urban land its value and when these rights suddenly ceased to exist, the land lost much of its value. This represented a loss for both the owners of the land and the municipality which based its annual rates on the market value of property.

Mr Wiley said the Chamber was particularly concerned at the apparent lack of any kind of action to rectify the situation.

“It seems that land owners who have lost rights and value through no fault of their own, now have to go through the whole cumbersome and expensive process of having their properties rezoned to recover their development rights. This also creates an enormous amount of additional work for municipal and provincial officials in departments that are seriously under resourced. Expensive, unacceptable delays and the retardation of economic development will undoubtedly result unless this matter is urgently addressed. ”

He said the situation was bound to lead to court cases and claims for compensation.

“As I see it there are two things that need to be done. A way has to be found to reinstate the zonings and rights that were allowed to lapse without any kind of notice or warning to property owners or municipalities and, secondly, there is an urgent need to rationalise all legislation dealing with land use and rights. This process should start at national level and all provincial and municipal regulations should then be amended to dovetail with the new national legislation.”

Mr Wiley said that this would avoid problems in future and streamline the task of managing land use and rights. “This would lift a burden from the shoulders of officials in both the provinces and the municipalities and it would be welcomed by the private sector.” 

It was ironic that it was the Western Cape that first identified the problem about five years ago and took the lead in rationalising the environmental, heritage, land use planning and municipal systems legislation to streamline the process. Unfortunately two years ago the national government put the brakes on as it saw the problem as a national issue.


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