Backlog in plans addressed by hitting targets
THE City of Joburg says it has vastly improved its turnaround time in the development planning department.
This was after numerous property developers and owners last year complained about long delays in approving plans and applications.
Speaking after the DA’s first 100 days in office, member of the mayoral committee responsible for that department, Funzela Ngobeni, said the processing of applications made for building plans, site development plans and building line relaxations increased from an average of 80% to 90% within 28 days. A backlog of 198 applications caused by the system’s downtime was cleared by September 17.
Promulgations, that used to take 28 days to process, 85% are now being processed in 21 days.
“A quest to fast-track service delivery in the first 100 days of the new administration has yielded positive results. Days into my position as the member of the mayoral committee, I challenged staff members to increase output between the months of September and November.
“By doing so, the department met its targets in reducing the time taken to process applications, conduct inspections, enforce compliance, as well as carry out, implement and develop projects aimed at improving the lives of residents,” he said.
This approach additionally speaks to the economic growth objective of the city, as listed in the mayor’s 10-point plan.
It has further informed the processing of other application types, including, among others, consent uses and rezoning, said Ngobeni.
In an effort to safeguard the law, the department was able to conduct inspections on all complaints within 10 days. Of the 45 complaints submitted where applicants were stalling on compliance, 13 were finalised, while the rest were finalised by the end of December, he added.
Six court orders were executed to errant property owners, forcing them to comply with the city’s town planning schemes.
A further 160 properties were penalised with a multiplier of four on their rates and taxes account for contravening the national building regulations and continuing with their illegal building work.
Identified hotspots to be targeted include the inner city, Cyrildene, Orange Grove, Turffontein, Windsor East, Oakland Park, Westdene, Mondeor, Fordsburg and Mayfair.
“In a bid to inform the public of its services, the department organised open days and outreach programmes in November to assist residents to resolve their land use, building and addresses concerns.”
Also, the department, in addressing the needs of the poor – as listed in the 10-point plan – has sought to resolve the problem of street names in informal townships.
“This was, and is still, being carried out through the allocation, verification and, where necessary, correction of street names; giving residents the opportunity to become homeowners when they are issued with title deeds.”
Ngobeni said the department will maintain this fasttrack approach beyond the first 100 days to provide residents with quality, efficient services.
He urged residents to adhere to the law and play their part.
“It is our duty to strive towards upholding the standard of the vision of the city. The development planning department plays a key role in the definition of the city’s development trajectory and the attainment thereof,” Ngobeni pointed out.
Development projects in need of intervention have received, and are still receiving, attention from the member of the mayoral committee for them to be implemented.
These projects include Patterson Park which is part of the corridors of freedom initiative, the Orlando transit-orientated development programme, the Alexandra renewal programme, and the Hillbrow Tower precinct.
Inclusionary housing also got under way through a partnership with the SA Property Owners Association, to address the challenge of housing in the city in 2017/18.
Joburg property developers and owners said last year they were losing millions annually because of the shambles in the planning department.
...organised open days and outreach programmes