Back­log in plans ad­dressed by hit­ting tar­gets

The Star Early Edition - - METRO WATCH -

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

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