Johannesburg - The City of Johannesburg's new town planning scheme is unworkable, said the South African Property Owners Association (Sapoa) on Monday.
The City of Johannesburg implemented a new town planning scheme last week - the Consolidated Johannesburg Town Planning Scheme 2011 - which aims to combine over a dozen different planning schemes or zoning regulations in Johannesburg into one set of uniform zoning provisions, without altering existing zoning or development rights attached to any particular property.
However, Sapoa has argued that instead of streamlining town planning, the errors and inadequacies of the scheme are so severe that the city needs to go back to the drawing board.
Sapoa also pointed to a number of alarming "bombshells" buried in its fine print.
An effective appropriation of rights without compensation arose from a clause that provided for approved rights which were not exercised within 24 months to become "null and void".
The scheme also stated that the municipality was not bound by its own town planning scheme.
Sapoa CEO Neil Gopal said: "We acknowledge that there is a need for a town planning scheme that ensures the regulation of land is uniform and more efficient throughout the municipal area, but this is not what this document does."
According to Sapoa's professional and legal advice, the 2011 Johannesburg Town Planning scheme contradicted itself in numerous places, referred to schedules and annexures not in the document, contained an abundance of inadequate and confusing definitions, and even contradicted other legislation, such as its definition of an "erf" which does not conform with the Land Survey Act.
"In general the new scheme is poorly compiled. The meaning and interpretation of many provisions is impossible to understand - either logically or legally," according to Gopal, who said this was the conclusion reached by a large number of professionals and practitioners in the field of town planning.
"In fact, three full sections were missing from the copy supplied to Sapoa and despite repeated efforts requesting this information, we have yet to receive it.
"The lack of interaction in terms of acknowledgement of letters, submissions made, requests for information, and so forth, from the City of Johannesburg is a worrying trend."
He noted that this was only one in a long chain of events where the city has switched off to the needs of its commercial property owners and homeowners, who are the largest ratepayers.
He said: "We, and other professionals, intend to lodge an appeal to the Townships Board."