Planning application…change of land use: what does it all mean?
The process of building in Botswana especially in urban or semi urban areas is regulated by the Town and Country Planning Act and the Building Control Act, administered by the Department of Town and Regional Planning (DTRP), while Local Authority Planning considers standard applications. Often, budding developers and home builders are faced with having to learn the dynamics of some of the statutory compliance terms such as; change of use, planning application, building control etc for the first time when they first approach an architect of design consultant. It can be a daunting process to try and understand these while also trying to understand other aspects of building procurement such as what it is that you really should expect from your architect, developer or design consultant.
Below are some quick guidelines to the process involved in gaining two of the mostly frequently needed approvals: Planning Application and Change of Land Use
For a building structure to be legally built, it has to have acquired planning application normally processed by your local planning authorities. A planning committee or board will access the submitted plans/drawings for compliance with the planning regulations. These regulations are a guided by a guideline document found here and you can download Planning Application Forms here
Some the points considered are the buildings:
- Building Sitting on the plot and Plot coverage:
Set backs from the boundary or fence walls are a compulsory requirement for any type of development. The size of set backs differs depending on the proposed development use.
For a typical one story residential dwelling this setbacks are usually:
- 2.5 meters from three sides and
- 5 meters from the front edge.
The rule of thumb to use is that for every given height the proposed building, you need at least half the height from the three sides.
Commercial developments have a much better leeway on setbacks and plot coverage areas. Although there are no specific setback requirements for commercial developments, it is always worth consulting with the relevant planning authorise so they can ascertain adequacy of key requirements such as fire access and escape strategies, neighbour and boundary walls resolution
- Number of storeys and open space provision:
The height of the buildings is controlled by the development control code. It is critical to consult with local authorities to establish the limit in you area. In general residential developments are guided by:
- 3m for single family development and
- 6 storeys for multi residential developments
Any developments more than one storey will have to be approved with consent of the neighbours. Therefore ensure that a neighbourhood consultation form is completed and submitted with you application.
Commercial developments have more flexibility on height restrictions and it is important to establish what zone the proposed development is zoned as. This has implications of height restrictions especially where the area is a non business designated area. Three storeys will be the maximum height for non business designated areas.
Muilt-storied buildings have open space requirements which are also a compulsory requirement. For typical residential areas, approximately half the total floor area of the proposed building needs to be provided as open space.
- Vehicle parking and access:
Minimum parking requirements are also a compulsory requirement, which differs depending on the proposed building use. For residential developments, a minimum of 1 parking space is a requirement for single family residential and 1.5 spaces per dwelling unit for multi family development.
The provision of parking also has guidelines on access roadways and turning circles.
- Other issues of consideration:
- Fire strategies
- Access strategy
- Communal space
see the following links for more information
See appeal process here in case of application rejection rejections
The next instalment essay will highlight key aspects of ‘Change of Use application’
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