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Friday Aug 03, 2012

Municipalities to get power over use of land

Municipalities will have sole power, free from provincial and national government influence, when planning and deciding on the use of land - if the Spatial Planning and Land Management Bill becomes law.

The bill - which was initially introduced in 2008, but was never passed - would shift decision-making powers on land use from provinces to municipalities.

Parliament's portfolio committee on rural development and land reform yesterday called for public submissions on the bill.

The committee will hold public hearings between August 21 and 22. The deadline for written submissions on the bill is next Friday.

Committee chairman Stone Sizani said yesterday that the bill was a "progressive one".

He told The Mercury it had been redrafted as a result of a Constitutional Court ruling in 2010 which held that the Development Facilitation Act was unconstitutional.

The court held that the powers to consider and approve applications for the rezoning of land and the establishment of townships were elements of municipal planning, and the act was found to be constitutionally invalid, as it assigned exclusive municipal powers to organs in the provincial sphere of government.

The bill - reintroduced by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform - is an attempt to address the racially influenced planning systems used during apartheid.

"The pre-1994 settlement patterns, which resulted in uneven land allocation and service levels... found accommodation in many planning laws at all levels of government.

"While the act represented a significant attempt at addressing these unacceptable settlement patterns, this piece of legislation did not repeal the pre-1994 pieces of legislation on planning," the bill's memorandum reads.

The Mercury


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