Property development in Tshwane and Cape Town outstrips Joburg

This article from the Star newspaper is a little bit surprising, given the number of cranes that dot the skylines of Sandton and Waterfall.

Gareth Shepperson
Commercial and Property Attorney

Property development in Tshwane and Cape Town outstrips Joburg

Cape Town, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and eThekwini last year all approved building plans valued at more than Joburg's plans. And Tshwane and Cape Town residents completed buildings of greater total value than Joburg.

While Joburg's numbers went down, the plans for Tshwane, Cape Town and eThekwini went up; Ekurhuleni's completed buildings value went down, but the value of the plans submitted went up.

The City of Joburg has not responded to requests since Friday for an explanation, including queries about whether there were problems

Tgetting plans passed in Joburg or about the size of the planning- approvals backlog. The figures are in Statistics SA's annual report under 'Selected building statistics of the private sector as reported by local government institutions, 2013'.

The report looked at building by the private sector - business, industrial, office and residential - but excluded building by the government.

It also listed the value of building plans passed in 2013 as: Joburg R7bn (R7.72bn in 2012); Tshwane R14.7bn (R11.7bn in 2012); Ekurhuleni R9.6bn (R7.8bn in 2012); Cape Town R13.9bn (R11.9bn in 2012); and eThekwini R9.5bn (R6.8bn in 2012).

Nationally, the total value of building plans in 2013 was R86bn - up by about 17 percent from 2012.

The value of buildings completed in 2013 were: Joburg R7.2bn (R7.6bn in 2012); Tshwane R9.5bn (R7.6bn in 2012); Ekurhuleni R3.5bn (R4.3bn in 2012); Cape Town R13bn (R8.5bn in 2012); and eThekwini R5bn (R4.6bn in 2012).

The data in the report was crucial for Joburg.

'The results of the survey are used to monitor the state of the economy and the formulation of economic policy,' Stats SA said.

Population figures from the 2011 census from Stats SA showed that Joburg was the biggest city in South Africa, with a population of 4.4 million, followed by Cape Town with 3.7m, eThekwini 3.4m, Ekurhuleni 3.1m and Tshwane 2.9m.

Bryan Wallis, the director for practice and education at the South African Institute of Architects, expressed surprise at the figures for Joburg compared to the other metros.

He could not explain it, but noted there had been indications from the institute's membership that the City of Joburg was in the process of introducing measures to improve the effectiveness of its planning-approval processes.

Joburg DA councillor Graham de Kock, who serves on the council committee that oversees the planning department, couldn't understand the figures. 'Joburg is the biggest city in South Africa,' he said. 'This can't be right. It doesn't add up.'

He said that maybe people were undervaluing the plans they submitted, or there were delays in the planning department, possibly because it was understaffed, or possibly people were not filing plans as legally required.

If residents were ignoring the legal requirement to file plans - possibly because of difficulties in getting city officials to process them - it meant that illegal building was on the increase, which was the sort of problem that could lead to urban blight and scare off investors, De Kock pointed out.

'This is the tipping point of whether a city survives or doesn't,' he said.

Two weeks ago, The Star reported that the city's machine for printing copies of building plans had been broken for five months, causing huge backlogs in getting plans approved.

The crisis meant that developers could not get copies of plans for starting renovations or new buildings.

At the time, Joburg metro spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane confirmed the machine had been problematic, but said the city was buying a new one.

The Star


Denny Crane

Denny Crane
It's not me ... yet. Denny Crane from the TV series Boston Legal. Click on picture if you're not sure who he is!