VENTURES: City Acts Against Home Business
Recent Western Cape Business News
Anyone thinking of starting a business from home should first check with the City of Cape Town to find out whether the zoning scheme regulations for their area allows this activity.
The City’s Planning and Building Development Management (PBDM) Department is responsible for enforcing compliance with the zoning scheme regulations created in terms of the Land Use Planning Ordinance no 15 of 1985. These regulations define what properties can be used for.
The PBDM Department has recently increased the staff complement in its Land Use Enforcement Section. Thirty seven personnel have already been appointed out of an eventual 40 who will be allocated to different districts.
The department uses an eight district model and four enforcement regions, each comprising two districts. Each region will be headed by an Enforcement Coordinator. At present, one Enforcement Coordinator has been appointed and three people are acting in the remaining positions.
The Enforcement Section’s staff are guided by a Land Use Enforcement Policy which was adopted by the Planning and Environment Portfolio Committee (PEPCO) and came into force on 01 January 2009. The approach taken is to ensure people cease an activity which contravenes the zoning scheme regulations until such time as the land use rights are in place.
The process is complaints-driven and once a written complaint is received, it will be investigated and if necessary, a notice will be served. Transgressors are given deadlines and if they fail to close down in time, the matter is prosecuted in the criminal courts. If the prosecution is successful, the Land Use Planning Ordinance allows the Magistrate to impose a fine of up to R100 000 or a term of imprisonment.
Cheryl Walters, the Director:PBDM, says, “While the department is dependent on the criminal court process, which can take a long time to complete, it has nevertheless achieved notable successes since the enforcement policy was implemented eight months ago. In excess of 500 cease unauthorised business notices have been served, 286 unauthorised businesses have closed down and in 32 court cases, 29 guilty verdicts have been handed down and fines imposed”.
“It should be noted that a prosecution will be instituted even if a person has, subsequent to the notice, submitted a land use application to rectify the unlawful land use,” she added.
Anyone thinking of starting a business from home should therefore first contact the PBDM Department’s district office to find out whether the zoning scheme regulations for their area permits this. If a home owner or tenant wishes to run a business or a crèche in a residential area, they will probably first need to apply for some form of permission from the Department.
Application forms for permission to use a property for a use other than the allocated zoning are available on the City’s website www.capetown.gov.za or at the eight district offices. Completed application forms must be submitted to these offices.
Should anyone wish to complain about an unlawful activity, they must lodge a written complaint on the standard complaint form by fax or e-mail with the Regional Manager’s secretary or at this stage, to the relevant officials.
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