Ensuring development control

A key component of a good urban planning system is its ability to promote and ensure development control. The core rationale for development control is to ensure that the implementation of planning proposals is on ‘track’ and that the ultimate goals of planning proposals are achieved. Clear and unambiguous planning and urban development regulations, as well as good planning proposals in the form of strategic, regional, or development plans, are requirements for development control. However, compliance with planning and urban development regulations is fundamental to the achievement of development control (Mckay, 2003). Compliance is not only about property developers obeying planning and urban development regulations, but it is also about full implementation of planning proposals. This may encompass adhering to regulations requiring:

  • • the need for zoning and preparation of various plans including strategic, regional, and development plans;
  • • acquisition of planning permission and building permit and obeying their conditions;
  • • the development of right and appropriate levels of infrastructure, amenities, and services; and
  • • equal and equitable access to infrastructure, amenities, and services as well as other resources and opportunities.

The above requirements will need a huge financial investment from government at all levels - national, urban, and local governments - to pass the necessary legislation and directly participate in the implementation of plans as, for example, the building of infrastructure and amenities. Private individual developers and land users may also need financial capacity to comply with planning and urban development regulations whether in the form of undertaking actual developments or how the development should take place and its usage. Furthermore, there is a need for an institutional framework, particularly the establishment of the right kind of planning institution to oversee urban planning practice. This may be an elaborate bureaucracy well-resourced in terms of material resources, such as finance, office space, vehicles, and state-of-the-art technology, among others, and human resources who are well trained and motivated to put in place an effective and efficient urban planning practice. This bureaucracy will be responsible for issues such as:

  • • developing standards, guidelines, administrative processes, and procedures for planning practice;
  • • identifying investment and livelihood opportunities that can be built on, as well as factors that could motivate planning officials to perform well or pressures that could corrupt them; and
  • • undertaking surveillance and identifying non-compliance with regulations, as well as applying the appropriate sanction to ensure compliance.

Closely aligned to the above point is the need for a very effective and efficient court system that will be able to trial cases of non-compliance with planning and urban development regulations at the right time and in an expeditious manner to determine appropriate sanctions. What is also important is for planning institutions to incentivise property owners, developers, and land users to comply with regulations. The starting point may be for planning institutions to determine the sort of things that could motivate compliance with regulation and the corresponding quantum of them that could lead to desired levels of compliance. This, for example, could be the nature and implications of legislation, which may promote investment and development rather than restrict developments.

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