Development controls

Posted On Wednesday, 13 August 2003 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Jo PelserLament the vanished Eden of 1970s suburbia, if you must, but exciting SA cities are on the way 

The Johannesburg city  council has enacted its spatial development framework (SDF), realising government's decade-old plan to turn SA's urban areas into "compact cities". 

The US-type sprawl of suburbs over endless tracts of cheap land will soon stop, and our cities will be forced upwards by hard boundaries, beyond which certain kinds of development are prohibited. 

This is one of the most important initiatives designed to change dramatically the way our cities work and how our citizens live. 

Not all the changes will be popular and there will be resistance in some suburbs. But the gains - efficient public transport, the integration of diverse social groups and better city infrastructure - will eventually come to be appreciated. Certainly, the changes are expected to make our cities resemble more closely the model ones of Europe. 

What have been quiet, semirural suburbs, with homes on ample ground hidden behind high walls, will, in many cases, be replaced by dense, mixed-use developments. Shops, offices and entertainment facilities will be close to homes, resulting in compact minicities where people can live, work and play. 

Developments will be encouraged to open up to each other, eliminating separate security. Council will impose "build to" lines that bring homes closer to the streets, which more effectively prevents crime by creating "eyes on the streets". 

Ironically, it is not the Development Facilitation Act of 1995 that has kickstarted the changes, as was intended. It is traffic congestion, the crime wave and bureaucratic bungling that have slowed zoning approval to a crawl. Homebuyers have flocked to areas near their places of employment and dived for cover behind secure cluster developments. 

Developers have created a land rush for properties with building rights. Sable Homes MD Jo Pelser says it takes more than 18 months to approve a new cluster development. "So prices of land that has already been zoned have been rocketing." 

Montagu Homes marketing director Kent Gush says land prices have risen 50% in a year within Johannesburg's new urban edge, "from R1m/ha to R1,5m/ha in areas around Fourways". It is the Johannesburg city council's SDF - and the realisation that land is now finite - that is causing the rush, he says. 

Property economist Francois Viruly says that when developers run out of raw land, called greenfield sites, they will have to turn to conversion of existing properties, called brownfield developments. "It's already happening," he says. "Shopping centres are being renovated rather than abandoned, and inner-city redevelopments are starting in Cape Town and Sandton." 

No development may take place outside the urban boundary that surrounds Johannesburg and the rest of Gauteng (see diagram). Major commercial development is prohibited beyond the boundaries of business districts, such as Sandton, Randburg and Rosebank. 

Radical changes are taking place in suburbs with the largest stand sizes, particularly Bryanston, Sandton, and Constantia, Cape Town. About 20 properties in Bryanston have already been demolished and their stand-alone houses replaced by up to 150 homes. Pam Golding Properties' Jonathan Tagg says 20 more developments are in the pipeline.

Constantia, too, seems to be embracing change. Mike Greeff, who is building his eponymous estate agency on identifying sites in Cape Town's southern suburbs, says prices are rising faster for Constantia's newly dense projects than for normal houses. "Prices have risen by 25%-30% this year," he says.

Last modified on Friday, 16 May 2014 09:03

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