Love they neighbour?

With the property market as buoyant as it is, many property owners are contemplating subdivision of their stands to change land use rights which can be very lucrative if rezoning permission is granted.

Rob Stefanutto of Sotheby’s International Realty says: "The process of rezoning can be quite laborious and expensive with costs involved every step of the way; however for developers and property owners wanting to subdivide, it’s often worth the wait because of the potential returns.

"Zoning determines the rights of a property including the number of floors permitted, percentage coverage of the stand and building and boundary lines. Depending on where a property is situated these restrictions will vary; for example a property situated in an area with sea views will be height restricted and properties closer to the CBD will be allowed a higher percentage of stand coverage.

"The first port of call for anyone wanting to rezone is a town planner who will appoint an architect. Together they work out the most feasible manner in which to subdivide, drawing up plans and a detailed application report which is submitted to the city council. At this stage registered letters need to be sent to neighbours informing them of the planned rezoning and adverts need to be placed in the press."

Stefanutto notes that this is usually where the hitch comes in, as neighbours and local rate payers may object to rezoning due to planned structures blocking their views, disrupting privacy or similar. This generally results in the architect having to redesign the proposed plans.

"Once there is approval from neighbours, the plans still need to be passed through the Local Authority offices where they are brought before a board who make the final decision as to whether or not to remove the restrictions on the title deed. The entire process can take anything from six months to four years.

"Commercial rezoning becomes more tricky as developers often need to go into aspects such as heritage and environmental impact which may include damage to dunes or increased traffic and pollution, among other things.

"Although agents can’t help directly with the rezoning process they can often advise clients as to what the local rate payers in a particular area will tolerate without putting up too much of a fight. They can also obviously help in the marketing of the additional units."

"Residential rezoning is necessary in term of the lifestyle people are now living in the metropolitan areas of South Africa, however it needs to be done carefully to preserve spaciousness and to ensure that we don’t end up with unattractively dense living conditions seen in parts of Europe.”

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