What is a consent use application?
A Consent use application is lodged to the Municipality to allow certain development rights in terms of the applicable Town Planning Scheme, without changing the main zoning classification of the property. For example; consent for a crèche, second dwelling or church on Residential zoning. Consent use rights may be temporary and may lapse if the rights are not exercised within a certain time period.
In terms of most town planning schemes, all zonings have a primary right and a certain number of secondary land use rights which can be granted with the consent of the local authority. The secondary rights are land uses, which are normally compatible with, or are expected to be found in the area where the primary use is located.
Under a “Residential 1” zoning land uses such as communes, churches (in various forms as “places of public worship”), retirement centres, Social halls, places of child care (nursery schools, crèches, day-care etc.) and guest-houses are generally compatible and expected to be found within a residential area. Preferably such uses should be located along roads (Class 4 and 5) which facilitate ease of access and not in cul de sacs where access may be problematic or where traffic generation may affect the residential amenity.
These uses generally serve the area in which they are located, and especially in the case of guest-houses are situated in quieter neighbourhoods which enjoy good access to public transport, retail, business and recreational facilities. Persons would prefer such facilities within – or within easy reach of – the area they are doing business or travelling through. It is therefore regarded sound town planning to have such facilities within a residential environment or area. As it is not possible to plan beforehand where such facilities should be located, it is seen as a secondary right for which a consent use application is to be lodged.
Being a consent use/secondary use, the rights may lapse after 24 months of discontinued use, or if conditions imposed are not adhered to. This will provide for the planning process to be adhered to in order for the use and its effects to be investigated and the opportunity to impose development controls, where necessary. This is done in order to minimise or to eliminate any negative effect that the proposed use might have on its surroundings.
The use applied for complies with the aforesaid requirements. The site on which the proposed facility is to be located is well situated in a residential area with relatively large erf sizes, and is furthermore adjacent to a Class 4 road. The site should also be large enough to accommodate the proposed use in terms of the indoor and outdoor activity areas and space requirements for the intended rights.
The compulsory parking requirements should comfortably be provided for and functional parking arrangements should be made. In Tshwane, the required parking requirements for a guest-house are two parking bays for the manager, and one parking space for every guest bedroom. On-street parking should be discouraged and it is put forward that the proposed parking layout will eliminate the likelihood for any on-street parking.
Some residential areas have undergone pressure for non-residential development in recent years and as such there are some areas which have seen a decline in aesthetic quality and amenity. That being said, the non-residential land uses have been restricted to their respective zones and nodes and in general little infiltration of these non-residential light industrial land uses has taken place.
Granting consent use rights should not constitute a land use which is out of character with the current land use character. Any change in land use in a given area has to take into account the likely impact of the said land use change on the existing urban context, built form, character and rights of surrounding property owners – to name a few.
When evaluating the specific impact that the change in land use will have on the immediate area surrounding the application site, one needs to take into account the rights of the other existing property owners. The developer and owner of the property should consider how to take into account the specific site characteristics in order to ensure that the proposed rights will be in sympathy with the historical character of the neighbourhood, and mitigate potential conflicts with the adjacent property owners.
The proposed rights and proposed placement of activities and parking bays should not cause any conflicts with the adjacent property owners.
Application sites, existing houses and outbuildings that are in poor condition, requires major repair and upgrades. The proposed consent use rights may bring a total make over and renovation of the current house, outbuildings and garden which will lead to the betterment of the application site and the surrounding area.
In practical terms, the standard building lines in terms of the Town planning Scheme should be adhered to, the height remains limited to 2 storeys, and access to the site is possible from the existing entrance. The site should be adequately serviced in terms of accessibility.
From an architectural point of view, the current aesthetics of some sites are unquestionably out of sync with the surrounding dwelling houses and architectural character of the residential suburb. The development and use of the site for the purposes of a certain consent use will inevitably constitute an improvement to the amenity and visual appeal given that the owner of the site would possibly want to attract clients to the facility, and also improve the appearance of the site in meeting that end.
The existing dwelling houses situated on the application site are deemed suitable for the intended rights; however some alterations and modifications will definitely be necessary. A consent use application has the benefit of creating a welcoming and comforting ambience, and has the added benefit of promoting privacy among neighbours.
The main concern for most existing residents living in the area will undoubtedly concern the protection of their privacy, the preservation of the good character of their neighbourhood, and of course the control of noise emanating from the proposed rights on the application site.
A consent use to enable the development of certain activities on the property should not have a detrimental impact on the existing properties, and should not constitute an unreasonable addition to the area in terms of privacy and protection of the existing character and visual quality of the area. Sufficient and reasonable restrictions must be added to the conditions of approval for such application.
It is thus clear that the area is more residentially-orientated in land-usage and character, something more in-line and conducive to a land uses such as the proposed guest-house.
Why the need for consent use rights?
The application to obtain certain rights to allow for the development of a certain activity is clearly a response from the property owner’s needs for such rights. It is a product of continued urban growth and development within the area and an ever increasing need to make better use of the existing municipal infrastructure.
The development of the certain activity on the application property will result in a more optimal use of the available land in the area –evidenced by the success of other related activities in the area.
The key consideration for an application for consent use in existing residential areas is to ensure that the development does not result in negative effects on the area/urban structure and if it would positively contribute to an area by upgrading and attracting new investment and/or providing a much-needed community service. It is very important to give support to such applications in the light of combating urban sprawl, promoting entrepreneurship and catering for sustainable, flexible and resilient neighbourhoods.
It is thus put forward that a consent application is desirable given the fact that it will provide a much-needed addition to an already established residential neighbourhood which is undergoing a slow march to densification.
The development of the property will not only increase the social amenity of the area, but will also make the area more attractive to prospective residents and business people. Generally speaking, people want to live in areas that are well-serviced by amenities as this is not only convenient, but also increases the value of their property.
It can furthermore be accepted that there is sufficient reason to believe that the consent use proposal – given the fact that it seeks to realise/establish quality activity in the area, would be a positive addition to the area in terms of aesthetics, function and new investment. This can only be seen as a positive contribution to the area, even more so when one takes into account the current built form, visual quality and land potential/use of the application site. From an aesthetic point of view, this type of application will afford the owners of the property a chance to bring about an update to the existing physical appearance of the site and the street facade.
The benefits of developing an application site as proposed herein are numerous, and perhaps one of the most important benefits for the community is the more efficient use of land, infrastructure and also complimenting the existing community amenities and facilities.
The benefits of a change in land use is obvious, and in cases where the change in land use is in harmony with the existing built form and character of the area such land use changes should be supported accordingly.
Such an application is not only desirable, but also necessary in order to realise the optimal use of the existing infrastructure and land, and this should be seen as beneficial for the residents of the Municipality itself. The most pertinent development principles which apply are found under the principles of spatial sustainability, efficiency and spatial resilience.
Although this type of application does not directly work towards rectifying past spatial imbalances, it is submitted that this application will contribute in terms of bulk service contributions which will assist the Municipality in addressing these spatial imbalances through infrastructure investment. The employment generated by the granting of the rights on the property will seek to include previously excluded persons in terms of access to employment (not only during the construction of the buildings, but also for permanent staff employed to educate the students). The bulk contributions may also be used by the City to rectify or mitigate these imbalances. Job creation is key to rectifying past spatial imbalances and social/economic exclusion.
This type of application should promote the principle of spatial sustainability in that it promotes land development that is within the fiscal, institutional and administrative means of the Republic; promotes and stimulates the effective and equitable functioning of land markets; considers all current and future costs to all parties for the provision of infrastructure and social services in land developments; promotes land development in locations that are sustainable and limit urban sprawl; and results in communities that are viable.
The physical infrastructure that may be realized as a result of this land use change will help achieve and support the objectives above. The application site should limit urban sprawl and promote development within a key strategic location (close proximity to the CBD and other central business nodes), as well as mobility roads and public transport systems and that will help contribute to the viability and sustainability of the areas’ infrastructure (public transport, engineering services, community amenities etc.).
The application should promote the principle of efficiency as the land development optimises the use of existing resources and infrastructure.
In order to more fully align the application with the requirements of the SPLUMA Act, it has been deemed necessary to place greater emphasis on the engineering services applicable to the area.
The residential neighbourhood should be well-serviced by the City with external services available that is sufficient for the existing land uses in the area. The Municipality’s internal engineering departments will determine the impact of the proposed land use change on the existing engineering services.
The application site should be located in a serviced area and the site itself is serviced by piped water, electricity and telecommunications infrastructure (Telkom etc.). The exact nature of these services are known by the various Engineering departments, and their comments on the application will either indicate that a consulting engineer needs to be appointed to determine the exact impact on these services, or that the existing infrastructure can accommodate the proposed change in land use rights. A bulk service contribution is also payable by the developer for the upgrading of services in the future, if necessary.
The application site should be surrounded by a number of social facilities and open spaces that will further compliment the proposed rights.