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Developer calls for streamlined approval

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Property development and tourism in Cape Town are key drivers of economic activity and job creation.

Horizon Capital’s David Sedgwick says the city needs to reduce its timelines to approve departures via the Land Use Management (Lums) process and building plans.

“The current reality is the Lums departure process, on average, can take anywhere between 12 months and 24 months.” He gives an example which took 18 months for approval. The project, creating 1 000 jobs, had to be put on hold. In response to the city’s call for ideas, he suggests the following:

♦ Lums should have more authority to make decisions about waiver of advertising for departures that are well motivated and won’t have a negative effect on surrounding owners. The minute the advertising process is triggered, one is probably adding a year to two onto the timeline. In cases where departures are advertised, the process needs to be accelerated by reducing comment periods, collating responses faster and finalising the report for submission to the relevant committees for decision.

♦ Reintroduce formal pre-consultation meetings to ensure the rezoning/departure applications being considered already take into account the comments of Lums, so the plan can go in with its support.

♦ Examiners should send plans to all department simultaneously and ask for comments to be submitted within, say, two weeks. These can be collated and returned to architects within a month. The current process sees each department given a certain period to respond to the plans before moving them on to the next. Departments have one shot at commenting on plans and if they miss deadlines they should be held accountable.

♦ The Building Development Management Department should not be able to trigger Lums’ issues, such as road/transport requiring servitudes, to be registered.

♦ In order for the online portal to be efficient, all departments’ comments need to be reflected in one amendment letter. The Western Cape Property Development’s Deon van Zyl says the public sector should look to emulate the efficient, quality-driven procurement methods used in the private sector. Also, architects can self-certify building plans within the constraints of existing development rights – as do engineers.

“In other words, local authorities do not approve structural designs from structural engineers. “The engineers self-certify and take full responsibility for designs and decisions.”

Architects should be similarly empowered. Rawson Developers’ Brad Morgan says the city should look into legal working hours, possibly expanding them for the industry to make up lost time.

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