Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA)

Planning law is one of the core elements that impact our day to day life without us even realising it. The offices we work in, the residential neighbourhoods we live in, the shopping centres we use, and the roads we drive on were all planned within a legal system of interlinked Acts, Ordinances and Town Planning Schemes. Planning law facilitates any type of development and construction project in the country. Builders and industry professionals are depended on a well-functioning planning legal system to stimulate and provide a framework for development to take place.

On 1 July 2015 the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act 16 of 2013, or as it is widely known “SPLUMA”, came into effect in South Africa. The aim of SPLUMA is to provide a uniform system of spatial planning and land use management throughout the country. Some argue that SPLUMA has in fact not achieved this aim but added another complex layer on top of a maze of existing legislation it sought to replace. Understandably SPLUMA is still in the early stages of implementation and as expected will come with some growing pains.

SPLUMA places emphases on the fundamental role municipal planning and municipalities have on effective spatial planning and development. Before SPLUMA, planning legislation comprised of provincial Acts and Ordinances.

SPLUMA has introduced five development principles which any type of proposed development in the country must seek to address. The principles are (i) Spatial Justice, (ii) Spatial Sustainability, (iii) Efficiency, (iv) Spatial Resilience, and (v) Good Administration. The Act has however not provided any practical definitions of these concepts and as such can lead to interpretation difficulties when required to motivate in terms of a specific project.

Each Municipality must also develop a set of Municipal Land Use Management By-Laws as an operation framework on how different types of land development applications will be dealt with. The Municipal Land Use Management By-Laws provide guidance on how the public should be consulted, specific processes to be followed, minimum requirements for submitting a land development application, applicable application forms and the responsibilities of the applicant and municipality.

SPLUMA is only one of many planning law blocks that allow the construction industry to move forward. It might not be necessary for builders and other industry professionals to know SPLUMA and the Planning By-Laws of each Municipality, but it is important to at least take note of the legislation that makes development and construction possible. More on SPLUMA.

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