Acts and Organisations:

SACAP – South African Council for the Architectural Profession

THE RENTAL HOUSING ACT​ – Chapter 3 Clause 5 deals with payment of a damages deposit, in-going inspections, outgoing inspections, the refund of the deposit as well as permitted deductions.

THE UNFAIR PRACTICES REGULATIONS ​– Clause 4 refers to the condition of the property at the commencement of the lease agreement; maintenance and repairs for which a landlord is responsible as well as the provision of services; when the rented property can be entered by the landlord or his representative

CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT – Clauses 53 & 54 – defects and repairs; tenants’ rights to quality service and no defects in a property

SPLUMA – Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act, 2013
Township establishment – an integrated process of converting a property registered as a farm portion(s) into urban land (a township or suburb) which may consist of subdivided erven/lots/stands and may include streets and public open spaces. Simultaneously, the properties situated within the ambit of the township will be afforded land use rights (zoning) to regulate and manage the use of land as approved by the decision-making authority.

SAACPP – South African Association of Consulting Professional Planners

SACPLAN – The South African Council for Planners instituted in terms of the Planning Professions Act, 2002 (Act 36 of 2002).

SAPI – South African Planning Institution

RORA – Removal of Restrictions Act. There are 2 versions namely:

  • The National Removal of Restrictions Act, 1967 (applicable to all provinces other than Gauteng)
    • Gauteng Removal of Restrictions Act, 1996 (Act 3 of 1996) (only applicable to Gauteng)

PPA – Planning Professions Act, 2002 (Act 36 of 2002).

TPTO – Town Planning and Townships Ordinance, 1986 (Ordinance 15 of 1986), alternatively the Division of Land Ordinance, 1986 (Ordinance 20 of 1986)

LUS – Land Use Scheme as defined in SPLUMA 2013 (similar to a town planning scheme).

NEMA – National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 and Regulations. Legislation regulating environmental conservation and environmental impact assessments. It imposes procedures for a wide list of activities that have potentially negative impacts.

DFA – Development Facilitation Act, 1995

DRDLR – Department of Rural Development and Land Reform

DFA – Development Facilitation Act 1995 (Act 67 of 1995). Used as alternative to the provincial Ordinances to obtain development rights. The Act was primarily created to fast track developments (especially low cost housing). The Act has authority to suspend a very wide range of other legislation in as far as it may have a dilatory effect on the outcome of the application.

Term definitions:


Air Rights – development right for any purpose, residential, retail, office, etc that is approved in a structure spanning over a street or other public place, which does not restrict the continuous use of the street public place. Often connected between two buildings on either side of the street.

Amendment Scheme – Also known as Rezoning, is the changing of a certain zoning to another zoning, through a prescribed process.


Basement – Any part of a building that is located more than 2m below the natural ground level or of which more than 50% is below the natural ground level. Particular criteria may differ in different Town Planning Schemes. Basements are normally excluded from the calculation of bulk.

Building – Any structure as defined in the National Building Regulations 1985 and Building Standards Act, 1977.

Building line – an imaginary line at a specific determined distance from a boundary of a property that demarcates the limits of the placement of a building, within which no building structures will be permitted. Building lines may be relaxed on application and proper motivation. Usually, the building line area (also described as a building restriction area) may be used for open air parking and landscaping.

Building Restriction Area – The space between a boundary and a building line, on which no building is allowed. Can also include Open Spaces.

Building setback – See Building line

Bulk – A collective term to describe the allowed building magnitude of a building by applying the Floor Area Ratio, Coverage and Height. The developable floor area that may be developed is in terms of the provisions of a statutory land use scheme. (i.e. the sum of the areas of all floors of a building on the subject property).

Bulk Services – See External Services

Bulk Services Contributions – See Engineering Services Contributions

Business Building – collective term for buildings are used generally for an office, banks, service industry such as hair dressers, repairs, medical and dental rooms, beauty salon, fitness centre, etc, but excludes shops, restaurants, amusement places, schools, filling stations, warehousing, manufacturing, parking garages or vehicle sales. Please consult the specific Town Planning Scheme for items included peculiar to that scheme.


Commercial / Retail Property – refers to business buildings including shops, restaurants, amusement places, or vehicle sales. Please consult the specific Town Planning Scheme for items included peculiar to that scheme.

Conditions of Establishment – document issued by the Municipality, following the approval of a township, which sets out the conditions under which the township has been approved. It contains inter alia the conditions which must be fulfilled prior to the proclamation of the township, the conditions that will be incorporated into the proclamation notice, the conditions that will be included into the respective title deeds of resultant erven, as well as the conditions to be incorporated into the new zoning scheme (Sect 125 A/S)

Consent Use – represents a granting of development rights by the Municipality in terms of the Town Planning Scheme, without changing the formal zoning of the stand. Refer to the specific Town Planning Scheme as to which uses can be approved on different zonings. Examples are second dwelling or school or church on Residential zoning. Consent use rights are non-permanent and will lapse if not exercised.

Coverage – footprint area of a building expressed as a percentage of the total stand area, as seen vertically from above. It is not affected by the number of storeys of the building.


Density – in planning terms, this typically refers to the occupational density which may be permitted on a subject property, usually expressed as a number of dwelling units per hectare of land.

Duet unit – Not a formal town planning term, but a common term coined by estate agents to describe a unit of a Sectional Title scheme constituting two units (Second dwelling on Single Residential zoning)

Duplex dwelling – Building constituting two or more dwelling units of two storeys with an internal staircase. Often sold separately on Sectional Title.

Dwelling House – means a single dwelling unit on a Single residential, Special Residential or General Residential zoning.

Dwelling Unit – means a self contained suite of rooms, connected and containing habitable rooms, bathroom(s) and limited to one kitchen and used for the purpose of residence by a single family.


Engineering Services Contributions – Also known as Bulk Services Contributions. Financial contributions payable by an applicant whose township is proclaimed or rezoning approved and which have the effect of increased usage of any of the services provided by the Municipality. Contributions are meant to supplement the said services capacity at the cost of the applicant and not by the general rate payers. Contributions are determined by the actual increased usage and is agreed by way of a services agreement.

Environmental Authorisation – Letter conveying the decision of the authorities in terms of NEMA. Also known as Record of Decision.

Environmental Impact Assessment –  a procedure contemplated in the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act 107 of 1998) (NEMA), which procedure is employed to procure the authorisation of the relevant environmental authority (either provincial or national), to conduct a defined activity on a subject property as may be regulated in terms of the regulations to NEMA.

Erf – A stand or piece of registered land which and refers to a cadastral unit as surveyed and registered in the Surveyor General’s records.

External Services – Also commonly known as Bulk Services. Engineering services being the responsibility of the Local Municipality to provide. Include water reservoirs and distribution networks, electrical installations and distribution networks, sewerage treatment works and mains, roads and storm water. The responsibility of provision is prescribed in legislation and agreed with applicant in a Service Agreement.


Floor Area – the total roofed areas of a building including mezzanine floors and basements, external passages and balconies.

Floor Area Ratio – Also known as Floor Space Ratio, FAR or FSR. A ratio typically expressed as a numeric figure being a factor that may be multiplied with the land area of a subject property (usually in square metres), the product of which will define the gross floor area that may be erected on the subject property.


General Plan  – (SG Diagram) this is a plan reflecting multiple erven or subdivided erven or farm portions on a single diagram (or a single set of diagrams). An SG diagram keeps record of all beacons, measurements, and other data representing an approved Erf / township layout. An SG Plan is framed by a land surveyor and approved by the Surveyor General as official.

Gross Floor Area – (GFA) is the total floor area inside the building envelope, including the external walls, and excluding the roof. Note that as per the specific Town Planning Scheme, certain areas of a building may be deducted from the calculation (free bulk). These include areas used for parking garage, arcades and atriums, ducts, stairwells, lift shafts, fire-escapes, areas for building services, ie electrical plant, areas for maintenance equipment and refuse rooms.

Gross leasable area – in certain land use schemes this is defined as “GLA” or “gross leasable floor area”. In other words, the area of the building capable of being the subject of a lease agreement between the lessor and the lessee. This will typically exclude non-leasable areas of the building (communal passageways, stairwells, entrance foyers, utility rooms, etc). Usually, GLA is only relevant to the calculation of the required number of parking bays to be provided on a subject property.

Group Housing – means a group of three or more dwelling units designed as a harmonious whole and can be registered as Sectional of Full Title units. Often called cluster housing or other similar terms.

Guesthouse – Residential facility operated for profit with a specific limited number of rooms (i.e. 16 rooms in some municipalities) which provides short term accommodation, and could include a bar, dining room, lounge, and conference room for exclusive use of residents. Often it is a requirement that the manager be residing on the property.


Height restriction – the maximum allowed height of any part of a building, expressed as number of storeys or as metres above mean ground level. Used together with Floor Area Ratio and Coverage to determine “bulk”.


Integrated Development Plan – A policy document by a Municipality in terms of the Municipal Systems Act, which sets out the development vision of the Municipality in terms of physical, financial, institutional, social, political and operational criteria. It serves as a budgeting tool for the Municipality for capital spending on a 5 year revolving program.

Illegal Township – Any township that was created without following the prescribed procedures as set out in the various legislation (Ordinances or DFA, etc). When a township is ruled an illegal township, the Municipality may not approve any building plans for structures on even in that township while any building work is also prohibited.

Industry – means land and buildings being used for the production or manufacturing of goods, the assembly, repair, rebuild, packing or processing of products. It includes the generation of electricity and incineration plants and excludes any noxious industry – see separate definition.

Industrial property – refers to land being used for industry such as storage facilities, filling stations, warehousing, manufacturing, parking garages, distribution centres, wholesale trade, transport depots, laboratories and computer centres. Any light industry, office, cafeteria or residential component must be subservient to the main use. Please consult the specific Town Planning Scheme for items included peculiar to that scheme.

Institution – means land and buildings used for a charitable organisation, hospice orphanage, hospital, clinic, nursing home, veterinary clinic or veterinary hospital.

Internal Services – Services to be installed by the developer linking the individual user with the municipal bulk services. Include water, electricity, sewerage facilities, storm water and access to streets (in the case of an on-site development) or the internal streets itself (in the case of a new township).


Land Use Management Scheme – Also known as LUMS. It is the new style town planning schemes established through the Land Use Management Act, set to replace the former control mechanisms which were authorised by the different Ordinances.

Light industry – means land and buildings used for industrial purposes, but of a limited nature. Examples are typically bakery, contractors yard, printing, panel-beating, motor workshops, etc.

Line of No Access – the zoning maps which form part of a land use scheme may include a reference to a so-called “line of no access”, denoting a line (usually along the perimeter boundary of the subject property) along which no access may be provided to the subject property from the external road system. Typically, such lines of no access apply to provincial and national roads and higher order roads within the municipal jurisdiction.

Listed Activity – Activity or land use that, in terms of NEMA has a potentially negative impact on the environment, requiring special investigation and authorisation. Note that below certain thresholds, activities may be subject to lower order investigation or even exempted from the regulations.


Medical Rooms – Facilities used by medical and dental professions and may include dispensing medicines. This component is often linked to the zoning for offices, professional rooms or business. However, due to the much higher required parking ratio, it attracts substantially higher contributions payable to the Municipality for particularly Roads & Storm Water.


Noxious Industry – means any industry that is classified as a noxious industry due to the production of, or discharge of noxious substances, gasses, smells, noise, dust, smoke, etc and consequently is excluded from conventional Industrial zones.


Offices – means land and buildings used for professional, clerical, administrative, management, marketing and consulting purposes. It excludes any form of retail.

Open Space – refers to land which is specifically allocated to be predominantly free from buildings or structures, for the enjoyment of the public and for aesthetical purposes, as well as for the conservation of natural areas, for water courses and associated flood areas, parks and squares. It may contain facilities such as ablution facilities, pergolas, benches and braai facilities. Open Space may be public or private.

Outdoor Advertising – The use of billboards or parts of the exterior of buildings for the promotion of products and services. Strict regulations exist that regulates these activities and beyond a certain size, will require permissions and even environmental authorisation.


Panhandle – Narrow alleyway as part of a stand, which provides access from the street to that stand which is not directly adjacent to the street. Specific minimum measurements apply depending on how many erven are served by the access, ranging from 3m to a maximum of 8m. In the event of access being given to multiple stands, a servitude for access must be registered over the servient stand.

Parking Ratio – prescribed number of parking bays to be provided on site for a specific zoning, often expressed as a number of bays per 100m² Gross Leasable Area of the building, or in the case of restaurants or conference centres, a number of bays per certain number of chairs, or rooms in the case of a hotel or guesthouse.


Remaining permissible coverage – This means the amount of square metres you still have left to build on without contravening the guidelines / regulations in your area. If a building is already in contravention these guidelines, council is permitted to issue an instruction for demolition. To avoid this, one must apply to the local council for a permanent departure from said guidelines / regulations.

Rezoning – Also known as Amendment Scheme, is the process of amending a property’s zoning scheme (or any of its provisions), to change the land use rights and development restrictions applicable to the subject property, through a prescribed process.

Right of way – (R.O.W) is a servitude and refers to a “right of way”. It regulates access over one property in favour of the next property (similar to a private roadway). The details of such servitudes are typically described in a notarial deed of servitude registered in the office of the Registrar of Deeds.


Site Development Plan – This is a plan typically defined in a land use scheme which holistically illustrates the intended development on a subject property, indicating the position of the proposed building structures to be erected, access provisions, the provision of parking, landscaping, the imposition of building lines, the position of servitudes and related features. An SDP typically precedes the submission of a building plan.

Spatial Development Framework – A visual illustration of the forward looking policy of a municipality (its future desired state of development in its area of jurisdiction). This document functions similar to the earlier Structure Plans, which presented a preferred land use pattern, against which development proposals are adjudicated by the authorities.

Section 82 certificate – Certification by the Municipality that all conditions have been met with regards to the establishment of the township, including the proclamation and the arrangements for the installation of services. This certificate has the effect of transfer of stands being authorised and building plans being accepted for approval. This section number is peculiar to Ordinance 15 of 1986 and will differ with other province’s Ordinances.

Section 125 Amendment Scheme – As part of township proclamation process, the new township’s approved zonings are incorporated into the existing Town Planning Scheme in operation. This is contained in the prescribed Maps and Annexures and is gazetted together with the notice of the township. This section number is peculiar to Ordinance 15 of 1986 and will differ with other province’s Ordinances.

Services Agreement – Agreement concluded between applicant and Municipality on the responsibilities to provide the internal and external services required for a development, the level of services to be provided, as well as the amounts of services contributions payable.

Servitude – in planning terms, this typically refers to a part of the subject property over which an engineering service (water lines, electricity cables, sewage facilities, etc) are routed and where such services are protected by reference to a servitude diagram (depicting the area so affected). Typically, servitude areas may not be encroached upon by building structures and the details of such servitudes are typically described in a notarial deed of servitude registered in the office of the Registrar of Deeds.

SG diagram – (see General Plan ) a diagram approved by the Surveyor General in terms of the Land Survey Act, denoting the boundaries of a property or a servitude or other land area.

Special Zoning – Zoning category used for any land-use right that is not otherwise defined and in need of a tailor-made description. For example a filling, if you want to isolate the filling station without the other business uses, one creates a zoning of “Special for Filling Station”. Similarly Special zonings can be created for “hotel” or “boutique hotel”, etc.


Title Restriction – restricting condition contained in the title deed of a property, which may have the effect of a limitation on development. In older townships, prior to Town Planning Schemes, the title deed used to regulate land uses and many remnants of these still exist today. These include a limitation on subdivision, prescriptions on the use of building materials, building lines, the purpose for which a stand may (or may not) be used, etc. Title restrictions can be removed with a prescribed process.

Town Planning Scheme – System of land use management, in terms of legislation, which allocates legal rights to land within its area to develop and the erection and use of buildings within the ambit of specific conditions and control measures.


Use Zone – Broad categories of land uses in the Town Planning Scheme indicating different zonings, e.g. Residential 1, or Special Residential, Business 2, Industrial 1, Public Open Space, Undetermined, etc.


Zoning – Land Use allocation or right, regulating the nature, scale and allowed use of buildings on each property within a given Town Planning Scheme area.

Zoning Scheme – Alternative term to describe a Town Planning Scheme