Issues That Usually Cause Building Applications To Fail
The Municipal Council of Manzini has a mandate to facilitate coordinated and controlled infrastructure development in the City of Manzini. Amongst its key deliverables is formulation of a policy framework for spatial development, environmental management as well as scrutiny and approval of building applications. As a result, all construction of buildings, temporary or permanent, has to be approved by the Municipality. Therefore, submission of a building plan is a key requirement before one can start building works. It is only after approval thereof that construction can commence. Council is grateful that most property owners make it a point that they comply with this requirement.
Those who choose not to comply are ordered to immediately stop construction works and demolish whatever had already been constructed. Statistics shows that under normal circumstances the Municipality receives and processes about 40 building applications (residential, commercial and semi-commercial) per month. However, the sad reality is that some of these applications become unsuccessful. This article, therefore, seeks to highlight some of the issues that would make a building application unsuccessful so that property developers can be extra careful going forward.
The Municipality utilises the Urban Government Act 1969, Town Planning Act 1961, Building Act 1968, Human Settlements Act 1988 and the Public Health Act 1969 as the legal framework when processing building applications. Property developers are, therefore, urged to consult with the Municipality before committing to carrying out construction works in the city. The Municipality is always ready to give advice on what one should do so to give their building application high chances of success.
UNDER-VALUING THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT
One of the requirements when submitting a building application is that you must state the estimate value of the proposed development. It is the value of the proposed building that Council uses to determine the payable building plan scrutiny fees. Some people try to dodge the scrutiny fees by stating values that are far below the reasonable estimate. Council has professional building inspectors and other experts who are able to pick issues of undervaluation. This results in disapproval of the building application.
It is essential that property developers familiarize themselves with the Manzini Town Planning Scheme; which spells out the land use rights for each zone in the city. The Town Planning Scheme spells out the acceptable use for every parcel of land in the urban area and the zoning or development code forms part of it. In essence, the Development Code spells out the things that you can do in your property or plot and those that you are not permitted to do; and the land use rights vary from zone to zone. Therefore, if the intended development does not conform to the zoning of the property it results in the building application being unsuccessful. It is, therefore, advisable that, even before you buy property, you consult with the Municipality or refer to the Manzini Town Planning Scheme so that you find out whether or not the intended development will be approved.
PRESENCE OF ILLEGAL STRUCTURES IN YOUR PLOT
If there exist an illegal structure such as a pit toilet, one-room flats and mud houses in the plot that you intend developing, the building application will be turned down. Such structures do not conform to urban standards; as dictated by the legal framework referred to above. They need to be removed from the property before considerations on the building application can be made.
ADEQUATE PARKING KEY IN CHURCH APPLICATIONS
The Town Planning Scheme carries certain requirements for construction of churches. Over and above the considerations on zoning, it is important to buy a plot that will have capacity to accommodate ample parking space for congregants. The requirement, as per the present Town Planning Scheme, is 10 seats per parking bay. For example, a plot for a 1000-seater church must be able to accommodate at least 100 parking bays. Sound proof considerations are also critical.
HARDWARE STORES, CARWASH BUSINESSES NOT PERMITTED IN CBD
Hardware Stores and car wash businesses are not permitted in the Central Business District (CBD). These are reserved for the Manzini light industrial area or service industry zones of the city. Council is grateful that some of the hardware stores that were already in existence in the CBD before the 2013 Town Planning Scheme have moved out of the CBD or are in the process of doing so. With regard to car wash businesses, anyone wishing to operate one anywhere in the Manzini urban area is required to start by applying for special consent from Council. Moreover, the plot from which you intend operating the carwash business must be connected to a public sewer line. There must also be a provision for toilets, change rooms and store rooms.
WHEELCHAIR RAMPS REQUIRED IN PUBLIC BUILDINGS
Applications for construction of public buildings such as malls, shops, schools, churches or office blocks require a provision for wheelchair ramps and other disability-friendly features. Facilitation of city development that is friendly to people with disability is of paramount importance to the Municipal Council of Manzini. Emergency exit points are also compulsory in public buildings.
…OTHER IMPORTANT REQUIREMENTS TO NOTE
o Proof of property ownership – Copy of Title Deed
o Three copies of the building plan; with one being in full colour
o Payment of scrutiny fee
o Raising of property boundary pegs by professional registered surveyor
o General parking requirements, besides churches (e.g. Malls)
o Mini Traffic Impact Studies for developments that will attract huge volumes of vehicles and augment existing road networks