Planning Authority announces key changes |28 November 2023
Fee updates, revised office hours, and December earth work ban
Three major announcements were made yesterday morning at the Planning Authority headquarters, Independence House, regarding the yearly ban imposed on earth works for the month of December due to the rainy season, new planning fees that will be enforced as from January 2024, as well as a review of the hours the CEO secretariat staff will be tending to walk-in clients next year.
Angela Servina, chief executive of the Town & Country Planning Authority, recently addressed changes in the planning fees associated with different categories of planning submissions, which is being slated for January 1, 2024. She highlighted that these changes are part of the ongoing work to update the regulations underpinning the Physical Planning Act 2021.
“It is important to note that the fees regulations currently in use date back to 1998, making them 25 years old.”
The updates are necessary to align the fees with modern standards and to address new developments that were unforeseen or non-existent at the time, resulting in certain applications being processed without fees.
“We have made provisions for all of this,” she assured. She noted there are certain things which have increased, such as an application fee for detailed permission of residential accommodation, whereby a dwelling house not exceeding 100 square metres,which was R200, will now be R300.
In the case of tourism accommodation, those not exceeding 20 beds has gone from R200 per bed to R300 per bed. The full list of changes will soon be published on the official sites.
“They are not huge increases, we are taking into account the current living situation,” said Ms Servina.
Clients will see notable benefits in specific areas under the revised fee structure, particularly in the renewal of residential. Previously, the initial planning fee required double payment. However, with the recent changes, clients will only need to pay a processing fee of R250. This adjustment significantly reduces the financial burden for residential renewals. As for commercials, they will only pay half the original fee. Certain projects, such as community and self-help projects will be exempted.
With regard to walk-in clients, the information and communications officer, Gilberte Serret, announced that as from January 3, 2024, the secretariat staff will be changing the times they attend to those clients. It will no longer be from 8am to 4pm but rather, from 8am to 12pm. This will allow staff to work on other dossiers and deliver a more effective service.
“We have complaints that we have to take into account, commencement notices that we have to respond to and answer the number of letters that we get every day,” she explained.
In regards to the ban imposed on earth cutting/earth works for the month of December, Ms Servina has advised contractors to temporarily suspend any such activities, considering the complications during the rainy season. This precautionary measure will take effect from December 1.
She emphasised that the Planning Authority closely follows the meteorological services to determine periods of heavy rainfall. Based on the latter’s guidance, the authority will reassess the situation and decide whether to lift the ban at the end of January or extend it further. “This is nothing new. It has been a practice for the last five years.”
She also advised contractors already engaged in such works to implement necessary precautionary measures to protect the exposed earth from rainfall. For those who have not started their projects, it is recommended to delay commencement until the end of the rainy season.