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City of JHB’s Construction Permit Management System promises to reduce building plans turnaround times

The City of Johannesburg Department of Development Planning has soft-launched its new web-based construction permit system.

Designed specifically for building permit purposes, the Construction Permit Management System, which will be piloted until the 8th of November, intends to modernise, and streamline the current Site Development and Building Plan permit system.

Professionals who are registered with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) can submit their building plans electronically.

The web-based construction permit system, alongside the recently launched eJoburg platform, falls within the City’s long-term vision, its Growth and Development Strategy 2040, and the Integrated Development Plan vision to reduce turnaround times while mitigating related risk.

An open-source system, that has been used in 14 other international jurisdictions, the Construction Permit Management System forms part of an initiative by the National Government on the Ease of Doing Business Programme, with Johannesburg as the first South African city to pilot.

The programme is a collaborative effort with the World Bank, International Finance Corporation, Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), InvestSA, National Treasury, and the national Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition.

The current turnaround for decisions (approvals or refusals) on building plans for a commercial property is at least 30 days, whereas according to the City of Johannesburg, the online permit system will provide a decision within 15 days, provided that all documentation and the application form are completed.

Applicants will also receive real-time updates at every stage of the application – a step that has proven itself a necessity in the building plan application process.

Advocate Toto Fiduli, Registrar of SACAP, highlighted that the City of Johannesburg’s online application system will contribute significantly to the professional body’s public protection statutory mandate, particularly against fraudulent and unregistered persons.

In the past year, SACAP has seen a steady increase in the number of persons who pass themselves as registered persons, when they are not. In addition, we have experienced an increase in the number of persons who fraudulently use titles and registration numbers of registered persons to submit applications to local authorities,” Advocate Fiduli added.

The introduction of the system is about improving operational efficiencies, cutting unnecessary costs and associated logistics that hinder the ease of doing business with the City.

The benefits of digitising the building plan application process include:

  • Online checklists and other information in one place for easy access.
  • Online applications (anywhere, anytime).
  • Enhancing customer satisfaction by improving transparency (system notifications via email).
  • No need for external consultants – the City receives the application and process the Site Development Plans and Building Plans using an integrated and equitable system distribution workflow.
  • Categorisation of building types and prioritising them.
  • Building inspectors issued with tablets to access the system as they conduct inspections on-site and provide real-time updates.
  • Improved final inspections using workflow and faster issuance of Certificates of Occupancy; and
  • Improved reporting and measurement.

The Construction Permit Management System holds both the City and architectural professionals accountable throughout the online application process”.

The former, for the efficient and seamless processing of building plan applications, with equal distribution among Regional staff to eliminate preferential treatment and undue influence; and the latter, for the submission of quality building plans by professionals, whose credentials are validated against SACAP,” added MMC Amad.

SACAP registered architectural professionals who would like to be workshopped on the new Construction Permit Management can contact the Building Control Officer, Maruping Broderick Chiloane –