Advice and Opinion

Capetonians reminded about building plan application extension opportunity

Building plans

Capetonians are reminded about the opportunity to extend building plan applications. Approved building plans are valid for one year only, but the City of Cape Town’s Development Management Department says that residents have an opportunity to apply for an extension.

Residents can apply for an extension before the validity of the building plan has lapsed. The extension will be dependent on all other prerequisites as per the due process. These include the validity of other applicable clearances or approvals relating to the original approval such as land use departures etc.

A minimum fee for the building category for which the extension is applied for will be applicable. Where no building work commenced within the twelve-month validity period of approved building plans, such approval will lapse automatically. However, an extension can be applied for if done so prior to the expiry date of the approved building plan says the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt.

When a building plan has lapsed and no extension was applied for within the twelve-month validity period, a full application will need to be resubmitted should the applicant wish to commence the building work.

In the case where an application is re-submitted within six months of the lapsed date, only 50% of the applicable plan fee for the category will apply, providing that all the clearances submitted during the first approval are still valid. This process is significantly shorter. Should the plan be re-submitted more than six months after the lapsing date, the full tariff will be applicable.

Residents wishing to submit building plans must first ensure that the property they wish to build on is properly registered and that they have all the prerequisite approvals in place. These may include land use approvals in terms of the zoning scheme regulations, an environmental impact assessment, Heritage clearance, etc. Having these in place will help with the smooth running of the process and save time for both parties” she says.

All building plans are submitted electronically via the City’s e-Services and are subject to a rigorous process.

The statutory timeframes for the assessment of building plans are thirty days for plans with an architectural area of up to 500m² and sixty days for plans with an architectural area of more than 500m².

It is important to note that once a building plan is returned to the applicant due to some shortcomings, the application sits outside the City’s control and these “out of system” timeframes cannot be subjected to the thirty or sixty days’ statutory timeframes.

The following are taken into consideration during the assessment of a building plan, among others:

  • Building plans must comply with the National Building Regulations and all applicable legislation
  • Building elements are fully evaluated against all parts of the National Building Regulations. This is to ensure structural stability, fire safety, general safety, health conditions, accessibility, prevention, energy efficiency, etc.
  • Building plans are evaluated against all applicable legislation such as the zoning of the said property, the local environment, heritage, City by-laws, available services, title deeds, development conditions, etc.

When the applicant is unable to satisfy all relevant requirements, the application is then forwarded to the Building Control Officer who will recommend refusal of such application.

There is no appeal mechanism available to the building plan process. A person who feels aggrieved by a building plan decision made by the City, may approach the courts to place the decision on review.

Residents must please ensure that their building plans meet the requirements and are compliant with the building regulations before these are submitted to the City for assessment. In so doing, they can prevent unnecessary delays, ease the assessment process, and enhance safety, health, and welfare in the built environment. Building plans are often sent back to applicants due to incomplete documents. Also, I want to encourage residents to take advantage of the extension period and to do so before the one-year lapses,” urges Alderman Nieuwoudt.

Residents are also reminded that they need an approved building plan before building work can commence.

Building plans are a prerequisite for the following:

  • Minor works: boundary walls, carports, swimming pools, internal alterations, any other building work of a minor nature
  • Buildings: dwellings and second dwellings, blocks of flats, hospitals, hotels, churches, warehouses, office blocks, shops, and shopping centres
  • Industrial buildings, commercial buildings, sport, and recreational buildings
  • Permits: Demolition permits, permits for special events, temporary buildings. 

Thus, an approved building plan is required for a range of building work – before the construction of a new building, alterations or extensions to existing buildings, or even simply changing the use of existing buildings without physically altering the subject building,” concluded Alderman Nieuwoudt.

It is the owner or developer’s responsibility to ensure that they have the approved building plans in line with section 7 of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act 103 of 1977.