Land reform and rural development minister Gugile Nkwinti. Photo: Leon Nicholas

Parliament, Cape Town - The National Assembly approved legislation intended to provide a uniform, effective, and comprehensive system of spatial planning and land use management on Tuesday.

Introducing debate on the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Bill, Rural Development and Land Affairs Minister Gugile Nkwinti said the legislation would ensure the system of spatial planning and land use management promoted social and economic integration and inclusion.

“We cannot say we have achieved social inclusion while the rich and the poor, often defined by race and class, continue to live apart,” he said.

Redressing the imbalances of the past and ensuring there was equity in the application of spatial development planning and land use management systems was a worthy cause.

The important role of municipalities in land use management could not be over-emphasised.

Their municipal planning mandate placed them at the forefront of land use management.

“Yet, we are acutely aware of the limitations and capacity challenges of our municipalities across the country.

“In this bill, we have confirmed our understanding of municipalities as the primary land use regulators. So, all land use applications will go to a municipality in whose area the land is located,” Nkwinti said.

Provincial and national governments would perform key support and monitoring functions to ensure municipalities discharged their mandate as was spelled out in the bill.

“This is a whole-government piece of legislation,” he said.

Principles underlying the bill included that past spatial and other development imbalances should be redressed through improved access to, and use of, land.

Spatial development frameworks and policies in all spheres of government should address the inclusion of people and areas which were previously excluded, with emphasis on informal settlements, former homeland areas, and areas characterised by widespread poverty and deprivation.

Spatial planning mechanisms, including land use schemes, should incorporate provisions which enabled redress in access to land by previously disadvantaged communities and people.

A land use regulator considering an application, could not be impeded or restricted in exercising its discretion on the grounds that the value of land or property could be affected by the outcome of the application, Nkwinti said.

The bill now goes to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence. - Sapa