THE Kouga Council has declared an 18-month amnesty period for the payment of fines and penalties related to incomplete or incorrect building plans.The amnesty period will run from January 2019 to June 2020 and will apply only to building work that existed or started prior to this time. Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks said the move was prompted by numerous requests from property owners and industry roleplayers to be exempted from fines and penalties imposed on them for failing to comply with the National Building Regulations.“This non-compliance is not always the fault of the current property owner, hence Council’s resolution to declare an amnesty period,” he explained.“In some instances, previous owners built, extended or altered their properties without building plans having been submitted or approved. “There are various reasons for this, including, architects and draughtsman not always returning building plans to the municipality for final approval. “There are also properties that are in use despite not having occupation certificates as the final building inspections were never conducted.”He said property owners in this position would typically be fined in terms of the National Building Regulations and municipal standard application fees.“It is these fines and penalties that will be waivered during the amnesty period. The normal application approval fees will, however, still be applicable and payable.“We would also like to emphasise that the amnesty must not be construed as a relaxation of any standards, regulations or legislation. It is simply an attempt to legalise illegal structures within the municipal area in accordance with the relevant legislation.”All submissions for exemptions must be put in writing and emailed to the Department: Planning and Development at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Alternatively, it can be hand-delivered to the Department at the municipality’s office in Woltemade Street, Jeffreys Bay.Hendricks cautioned that building plans for unauthorised structures submitted through this process will also be subject to inspections by the municipality’s Building Control section. Any structures that do not comply with the required standards will not be approved until such a time as the necessary corrections have been done.“Each case will be dealt with on merit and the municipality remains the final decision-maker,” he concluded.