The Council Approval Process

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May 27, 2015

The Council Approval Process

When we say ‘council approval’ we are referring to obtaining permission from the city to build. It is required for all building work internal and external, carports, pools, etc. There are two types of approval: Building Development Management (BDM) and Land Use Management (LUM). BDM approval is always required, LUM approval is only required when you are deviating from the land use permissions for your site set out in the Town Planning Scheme.

Some times that a LUM approval is required:

  • Departure from the allowed zoning of your property (building a shop on a residential site)
  • Departure from the building lines and heights allowed in the town planning scheme for your site
  • Departure from a condition in your title deed (in some cases an attorney is also required for this)
  • Building a granny flat or second dwelling where only one dwelling is allowed according to the town planning scheme
  • Administrative penalty – when you have built without permission and are now submitting ‘as built’ plans
  • Subdivision of site
  • Consolidation of site

This is not a comprehensive list, but in my experience, it covers 95% of LUM applications.

The approval process:

Each approval is different, but this covers a typical situation

1. Complete building plan is submitted with the following documents:

  • Title Deed (client to provide, or we can obtain for a small fee)
  • Chief Surveyor’s Diagram (we provide)
  • Form 1 – application form (we can supply and sign on your behalf)
  • Form 2 – application form for engineering work if required (client to arrange unless otherwise specified) (not always required)
  • BDM form – application from (we can sign on your behalf)
  • Section 17 form – giving us permission to sign and submit on your behalf (we will supply this form)

2. Documents are uploaded onto the city’s ‘portal system’ and automatically circulated to the town planning department where the plans will be ‘Cleared’ (no LUM application required) or LUM application will be requested

3. LUM (if Required)

Application is completed by us and submitted to council. Council will send a locality map and contact details for neighbors who need to be advised and give consent. The client can physically obtain consent using the form which we can provide, or council can do this for a small fee.

4. BDM approval

The plan is circulated to various departments depending on the submission. These include but aren’t limited to:

  • Heritage department (Automatic if building is over 60 years old)
  • Roads and stormwater
  • Waste management
  • Environmental control

5. Heritage Western Cape (HWC)

The Heritage department may refer the plan to Heritage Western Cape if the building is deemed important from a heritage perspective. This requires another application which takes about 6 weeks. The HWC fee for this is approx.. R350.00

6. Amendments

If in circulation any department wants clarification or additional information, they send us a letter requesting amendments. We make changes to the plan if necessary and resubmit. We have a maximum of 30 days to do so, but we aim to reply within the shortest possible time. Unfortunately the amendments, if any, don’t all come at once and sometimes there is a bit of back and forth between us and the council.

7. Building Control

The Building Control Officer checks that everything has been done and gives final approval

We aim to keep the client informed of where the plan is and communicate regularly with council to ensure the plan is receiving attention. We may not contact the client every step of the way since a lot happens with a plan in council, but you are free to contact us or the council to find out where the plan is. We urge our clients to contact us before jumping to conclusions when talking to council since they do sometimes use jargon and terms which are confusing and may give the impression that nothing is happening with the plan.

We normally obtain full approval for approx. 25 plans per year. Approx. one every two weeks. The timing at council depends on a lot of factors:

  • Where in the city the site is
  • Which plans examiner gets your case
  • The council workload

Contrary to what council has sometimes claimed in the media, it is irresponsible to give an estimate for approval in days or weeks no matter how simple the plan is. A simple plan with no amendments or LUM should be approved in less than 30 days. A simple LUM approval should take a further 30 days. This time can be doubled or even tripled for more complex cases. Amendments and heritage issues can create further delays. But we have experience and a good relationship with council and pride ourselves on obtaining approval as quickly as possible.

Council fees are calculated by council during the examination stage. You are invoiced directly by council in a similar way to how you are invoiced for rates. The fees range from under R500.00 for a small alteration upward. Examples:

50m² approx. R1,060.00

200m²   Approx. R6,700.00

500 m² Approx. R14,000.00

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