Property value fears ‘may not block development’

2013-02-27 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The National Assembly yesterday approved a bill that provides that the fear of falling property prices will no longer be grounds to prevent low-cost developments in wealthy suburbs.

The Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Bill was approved despite objections by the DA, Cope, ID, ACDP, FF+ and UCDP.

Rural Development and Land Affairs Minister Gugile Nkwinti said the bill creates a framework to overcome past inequalities. He noted that in the past most South Africans were prevented from living in the vast majority of the country.

In future, town planning, for which municipalities will now bear the sole responsibility, without provincial support, will have to take into account the rights of squatters and dwellers on common land.

All new zoning schemes will have to factor in the needs of the poor.

Municipalities will have to show that the extension of tenure and the upgrading of informal settlements are part of development planning.

Nkwinti admitted that the bill is complicated and will make demands on councils, but undertook that the central government will support struggling municipalities.

While speakers from the ANC and opposition parties agreed that the race-based town planning of the apartheid era was wrong, the opposition maintained that councils do not have the capacity to implement the law.

The DA’s Athol Trollip said the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department is almost moribund and most councils no longer employ town planners, so the law will be unimplementable.

Russel Cebekhulu of the IFP pointed out a constitutional stumbling block, in that the bill will affect areas under traditional leadership, but was not referred to the House of Traditional Leaders.

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