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Building Planning Application process in Botswana

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

Planning Application:

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

Department of Town and Regional Planning (DTRP)

Ministry of Lands and Housing

Download Planning Application Forms here

See appeal process here in case of application rejection rejections

The next instalment essay will highlight key aspects of ‘Change of Use application’

© 2011, Boidus. All rights reserved.


12 Responses to “Building Planning Application process in Botswana”

  1. would like to build a doublestorey apartment @ palapye.would like to change it from residential to multiresidential rent houses on aplot measuring 2600 square mitres..will this be possible?what form are available..

    Posted by fumbe opperman | 03. Apr, 2012, 2:43 pm
    • Palapye, a village in the central district, is a planning area.as such, any development occuring on any piece of land within the planning area boundary of palapye is subject to consent(Approval) by palapye Sub-District Council.
      For a plot measuring 2600 sqm, it is possible to change the use of the plotfrom single family reidential to multi family residential provide Council does not have any policies in place prohibiting such change, ie,talk of change of land use of agricultural land. The minimum plot size for change of land use for residential to multi family is 800 sqm nationwide.the forms tha you have to fill are called change of land use forms, available at council offices,you are also require to carry out consultations with your neighbours concerning the proposed development scheme dat calls for change of land use.if your neighbours have not yet developed and dont know them, you are supposed to advertise on newspapers and wait for 7 days upon which if there is no objection, it is deemed that the neighbours have no objection

      Posted by Nottah SG Keatholetswe | 18. Jul, 2013, 2:02 pm
  2. was resently told by the acheiteture that the leas agreement mast have a skechplan..how true iz that?

    Posted by fumbe opperman | 03. Apr, 2012, 2:48 pm
    • Yes, the lease document must have a sketch plan showing the plot size and locality of the plot, as surveyed by a registered Surveyor.

      Posted by Martin Chapusa | 20. Jul, 2012, 11:02 am
    • that is true.well at least for Land board leases.the sketch plan presents a graphic presentation of info. regarding the land parcel for which you are entering into an agreement with the land owner for. where it belong and how big.

      Posted by viki majama | 23. Jan, 2013, 2:11 pm
    • It depends on what you want to do with the lease agreement, i will be able to answer this one if you provided more details on your question, but lets assume you wanted approched the architect requesting him or her to come up with a development scheme for you and what you have at your disposal as proof of plot ownership is a lease. You see,,a lease is different from a title deed, so probably the architect wanted to appreciate the plot size and orientation so that he or she can coem up with a site plan for your proposals. the sketch plan u talking about is called a survey diagram, which shows your plot;s true measurements, and you can get it fro dept of surveys and mapping if the plot has been sureveyed, but if it is not surveyed, you can request that it be surveyed for you by either a private surveyor that you will have to pay or by the surveyors from the department of surveys and mapping in which case you will pay less..the survey diagram is the one tha you use to apply for a title deed…hope this information helps you….

      Posted by Nottah SG Keatholetswe | 18. Jul, 2013, 2:26 pm
  3. a lot of things are considered when considering such cases and one of it is plot size. but with that plot size i dont see a problm provided other factors dont stand on your way. cantact me at 71304481 so that we talk. i may be able to offer a cheaper service. im a town planner residing in Py

    Posted by mooketsi menyatso | 18. Jun, 2012, 3:39 pm
  4. I have a design company and would like to get it accredited which forms or which department handels the applicatios and forms

    Posted by Mike | 16. Aug, 2013, 3:43 pm
  5. what are the plot size and other requirements for constructing a double storey multi residential building?

    Posted by Solomon Khubidu | 21. Mar, 2014, 12:46 pm
  6. in a rural setup, is it advisable to make a plan for an ordinary structure such as one roomed house or a traditional hut, and be submitted to council for assessment?

    Posted by Goitseone | 26. Mar, 2014, 11:35 am
  7. what about positioning of a structure on a plot or its OK to erect it anywhere else?

    Posted by Goitseone | 26. Mar, 2014, 11:38 am

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