Town Planning Definitions

A List of Definitions and Terms
Used in Town Planning Schemes

Includes Land Use and Zonings Terms

Town Planning has different by-laws for each zone in any Municipality
Town Planning has different by-laws for each zone in any Municipality

The Johannesburg metropolitan area is the largest, most diverse and most cosmopolitan in South Africa, so we have based this list on definitions from their Town Planning document, see: town-planning-scheme-jhb. These are not only relevant to Gauteng but are used nationally. We have also added terms from various other Town Planning documents. In addition, your Local Authority may have terms that refer specifically to their region. If so, you can call them directly and ask them to enlighten you on the meaning of any specific terms or phrases you haven’t heard before.



Land or buildings where livestock or poultry is slaughtered and prepared for distribution.

Any Act Promulgated and referred to to any of the Town Planning Schemes

Adult Premises
Means land and buildings used for trade with sexually explicit material, including the distribution or exhibition of films or videos which are classified as “X18” or “R18” in terms of the provisions of the Films and Publications Act, 1996 or any amendment thereto. It also includes any shows, be it live or via films, videos or magazines, the distribution/exhibition of sex aids and/or the operation of an escort agency.

Agricultural Purposes/Building
Purposes normally associated with the use of land and buildings for farming/agricultural purposes and it includes only dwelling units necessary for and related to the bona fide agricultural use of the property. This also includes the use of the property for urban agricultural purposes; the sale of produce solely cultivated or bread from the site; horse riding facilities and related schooling uses, but shall not include sporting and recreation purposes or a race course.

Agricultural Holding
Means land as laid out in terms of the Agricultural Holdings (Transvaal) Registration Act, 1919 (Act 22 of 1919).

Agricultural Industry
Means any farming activity such as pig and poultry farming and cattle feeding lots, that is performed on such a scale and with such intensity that it could in the opinion of the Municipality possibly cause a health nuisance in respect of noise, smells, waste and effluent.

Land and buildings designed and used for the landing and taking off of fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft, airways control, aircraft hangers, fuel depot, fuel bays, workshops for manufacturing, repair and spray-painting of aircraft, engine run test area, training facilities for flight schools, passenger terminals, luggage and freight storage and handling, customs and migration control, associated shops, sale of aircraft and parts, offices, places of refreshment, places of amusement, banks, ATMs, leasing of vehicles, vehicle valet service area, guest-house, clinic, residential buildings, dwelling-units, telecommunication masts, hotel and conference centre, aircraft and related clubs and other ancillary and subservient uses and all uses normally associated with the proper functioning of an airport to the satisfaction of the Council.

Air Rights
Means the use of a building, which spans across an existing street at a specific height above the street level and does not restrict the use of the street, for any use which has been approved by the Municipality.

Ancillary and Subservient Use
When used in the context of an associated use or purpose, means a use, purpose, building or activity, which is ancillary and subservient to the lawful dominant use of the property and which support and compliment the main use on the property and which shall not exist on their own when the main use on the property is discontinued.

Animal Boarding Place
Means land and buildings used for the boarding, breeding and grooming of dogs, cats and domestic animals and may include the sale of products related to the main use subject to the Municipality’s relevant By-laws and Regulations.

Animal Care Center
A place for the care of domestic pets and animals, operated on either a commercial or welfare basis and includes boarding kennels, catteries and pet training centers.

Any registered owner of land, whether a natural person or a juristic body, or anybody duly authorised by such owner, who makes an application as provided for in the Town Planning and Townships Ordinance, Ordinance 15 of 1986, and/or this Town Planning Scheme or any amendments thereof.

An application made in terms of the provisions of the Town Planning and Townships Ordinance, Ordinance 15 of 1986, and/or this Town Planning Scheme or any amendments thereof.

Application Register
A record of all applications submitted in terms of the provisions of the Town Planning and Townships Ordinance, Ordinance 15 of 1986, and/or this Town Planning Scheme or any amendments thereof.

Any approval granted by the Council in writing with or without conditions.

The defined municipal boundaries of the City of Johannesburg and the area across which this Town Planning Scheme is applicable.

Means land and buildings used for an automatic teller machine of a bank or other financial institution.

Means land and buildings used for the storage of new and second hand goods for sale to the public by means of an auction or over the counter.



Means land and buildings consisting of habitable rooms including dormitories, a communal kitchen, dining-room, lounge and ablution facilities for the accommodation of guests and tourists for short periods and shall be managed by the owner or manager who shall reside on the same property.

Means land and buildings where bread, rusks, tarts, rolls, pies and other flour-baked products are manufactured in bulk for distribution to wholesale trade, shops and warehouses.

Means a public company provisionally or finally registered as a Deposit-taking Institution in terms of the Deposit-taking Institutions Act 1990 (Act 94 of 1990) and also includes an instant bank and automatic teller machines.

The space in a building between the floor and ceiling which is partly or completely below the natural ground level; Provided that a basement shall be counted as a storey for the purpose of a height measurement where any portion extends more than 1,0 m above the lowest level of the natural ground level immediately contiguous to the building.

Bed and Breakfast
A building/s in which the resident manager provides lodging and meals for compensation to transient guests who have permanent residence elsewhere provided that:
i. The number of rooms/suites may not exceed 10 without the written consent of the Council in addition to the accommodation of the resident manager
ii. The buildings may include self catered suites
iii. No buildings may be converted into dwelling units or be sectionalized.

Block of Flats
Means two (2) or more dwelling-units on two or more storeys contained in a building with a common entrance or foyer to the dwelling-units.

Boarding House
A dwelling house where the habitable rooms are rented out for an extended period by the resident owner/occupant to unrelated persons and communal facilities such as the kitchen, lounge, dining room and bathrooms are shared by the boarders.

In relation to a land unit means the cadastral line separating such land unit from another land unit or from a public street.

Builders Yard
Land and/or buildings which is used for the storage of material and equipment which:
i. Is normally required for or used for construction work and/or building operations;
ii. Resulting from demolition or excavation operations; or
iii. Is normally used for land improvements, such as materials used for building roads, installing essential services, or for any other construction work, whether for public or private purposes; and
iv. Land or buildings used for the preparation for use of any of the aforementioned materials; provided that it does not include any builder’s yard established for the purpose or temporary storing any of the aforementioned materials in connection with and for the duration of construction or building works in the vicinity of such builder’s yard, or the storage of building material supplies for a hardware shop contained within a building.

A structure erected on land, irrespective of the materials used inthe erection or construction thereof.

Building line
A line that is a fixed distance from the boundary of an erf or property abutting a public and/or private street or any other boundary of an erf or property or include a floodwater mark where indicated on the Zoning Maps, Schedule or Annexure.

Building Material Storage
Land and or buildings which is used for the storage/sale of material/equipment that relate to a hardware shop

Building Restriction Area
An area of an erf or portion of land on which no buildings may be erected, save as allowed in the Town Planning Scheme, and which is bounded on one side by a building line and / or street boundary or any other boundary of an erf or property, or which is subject to flooding as indicated by a flood water mark or designated by a floodline boundary.

Building Society
A Mutual Building Society as defined in Section 1 of the Mutual Building Societies Act, 1965 (Act 24 of 1965) and also includes automatic teller machines.

Business Purposes/Building
A property from which business is conducted and the related use of buildings including an office, restaurant, motor showroom, medical consulting rooms, domestic service industry, funeral parlour, call centers, warehouse, financial institution, dry cleaners, launderettes and building for similar uses not elsewhere defined as well as uses which are ancillary, directly related to and subservient to the main use such as a caretakers accommodation, but does not include a place of assembly, institution, public garage, industry, noxious trade or place of amusement.

The by-laws or regulations of the Municipality in force in the area.



Cadastral Line
A line representing the official boundary of a land unit or portion as registered in the Deeds Office.

Means a building or part of a building used for the preparation and sale of food and refreshments for the exclusive use of the employees and their guests or patrons of the building provided it is ancillary and subservient to the main use on the same property.

Call Centre
Means land and buildings used for a telephonic or other communication centre for rerouting telephonic or other calls by means of call operators.

Camping Site
Means land and buildings used for transient guests for the overnight accommodation of caravans, motor homes and tents and may include ablution facilities, caretaker’s flat, communal kitchen and ancillary and subservient shops and other related buildings.

A cantilevered or suspended roof, slab or covering (not being the floor or a balcony) projecting from the wall of a building and not being enclosed.

A building or part of a building used for providing food and liquid refreshments for the exclusive benefit of persons employed by an undertaking which owns and operates or controls such undertaking and includes the area for preparation of such foods and liquid refreshments. This use is an ancillary right on all non-residential Land Use Zones contained in this Town Planning Scheme but excludes a restaurant.

A vehicle which has been equipped or converted for living or sleeping purposes and which is towed.

Caravan Park
Land used for the parking of caravans for transient camping purposes


Car Sales Lot
Land, which is used mainly for the display and sale of motor vehicles, motor vehicle trailers, caravans and heavy-duty vehicles and may include ancillary offices, but excludes a scrap yard and a public garage.

A place, including land and/or buildings, used for burials, and such activities and which can include all uses ancillary such as a crematorium, chapel, funeral parlour, wall of remembrance and a convenience shop.

Child Care Centre
Land or buildings thereon used as a child care centre, including a day care centre, crèche, preschool, playgroup or after school care centre, for taking care of children according to compulsory educational standards and health requirements.

A place for the diagnosis and treatment of human illness or the improvement of human health, which has limited facilities and an emphasis on outpatients, with no overnight facilities. A clinic includes medical consulting rooms, outpatients’ center and a wellness center with associated uses.

Commencement Date
The date on which this Town Planning Scheme came into operation.

Commercial Purposes
A building and/or land designed for use or used for distribution centers, wholesale trade, warehouses, storage, computer centers, removal and transport services, laboratories, cash management centers, builders yards, coal yards, building material storage and all uses which are ancillary, directly related to or subservient to the main use such as a caretaker’s accommodation.

Common Boundary
In relation to land unit means a boundary common with the adjoining land unit other than a street boundary.

A dwelling house where the habitable rooms are rented out for an extended period to unrelated persons and who share the communal facilities such as the kitchen, lounge, dining room and bathrooms.

Community Body
A body, organization or institution of whatever nature that represents the interests of a community or segment of a community.

Permission granted by the Council, after due consideration of all relevant facts and after following a reasonable and lawful process, in terms of which a specific aspect of land management is permitted, in addition to the primary use rights applicable to the property concerned, i.e. Clauses 39 to 41.

Consent Use
The additional land use right that may be permitted in terms of the provision in a particular zone, only with the consent of the Council as contemplated in Clause 40.

The use or maintenance of land and/or buildings in terms of its natural, cultural, historical or built environmental significance, with the object of preserving the identified special characteristics. Such areas, which are to be identified by the Council from time-to-time or as determined through the National Heritage Act or National Environmental Management Act, can include but are not limited to water courses, wetlands and sensitive eco-systems, heritage sites, historical buildings or sites of cultural significance. These areas, erven or buildings need special management and maintenance in order to preserve the identified natural, historical or cultural characteristics.

Convenience Shop
A building, or portion of a building, restricted to the sale of convenience goods such as bread and confectionery, dairy products, fresh produce, beverages, canned foods, magazines and newspapers, at the discretion of the Council.

The City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality as established under the provisions of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act, 117 of 1998, or its successors in title, or a structure or person exercising a delegated power or carrying out an instruction, where any power in this Scheme has been delegated or subdelegated, or an instruction given, as contemplated in section 59 of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, 32 of 2000.

The total area of land that may be covered by buildings, as seen vertically from the air measured from outer face of exterior walls, expressed as a percentage of the land area, and shall include all roofed areas; provided that the following portions of buildings shall be disregarded in the calculation of coverage:
i. Unroofed stoep, entrance steps and landing;
ii. Open balconies, retractable awnings;
iii. Cornices, chimneys, pergolas, water pipes, drain pipes and minor decorative features not projecting more than 500mm from the building wall;
iv. Eaves not projecting more than 1,0m from the wall of the building;
v. A canopy erected on the street frontage of a shop;
vi. Electrical high and low tension chambers;
vii. The area covered by open air swimming pools;
Basements are dealt with and are subject to the provisions of Clause 30 of this Scheme.



Calendar days.

The development of land, changes in the use of land or intensification of that use and includes any matter in relation to land for which a development application is required.

Domestic Service Industry
The repair and sale of spare parts for domestic equipment and appliances, garden services, including the repair and sale of spare parts for lawn-mowers, irrigation systems and swimming-pool equipment, property maintenance services and any other service that is ancillary to such a industry. Such uses shall fall under the auspices of business purposes.

Dwelling House
A detached self-contained inter-leading suite of rooms containing a kitchen with or without an ancillary scullery and the appropriate ablutions, used for the living accommodation and housing of one family, together with such outbuildings and subsidiary dwelling unit as is ordinarily permitted therewith, as long as the subsidiary dwelling unit comply with the process stipulated in the Town Planning Scheme in Use Zone “Residential 1”; provided that a second kitchen, which is to be used for religious purposes and which is physically connected with the first kitchen, may be provided to the satisfaction of the Council. An entertainment, reception and/or living area within a dwelling house or part of a reasonably required and ancillary outbuilding (See “Outbuilding” definition), may include a wash-up area used exclusively for that purpose.

Dwelling Unit
An interconnected suite of rooms, designed for human habitation that shall contain a kitchen with or without an ancillary scullery and with the appropriate ablutions; irrespective of whether the dwelling unit is a single building or forms part of a building containing 2 or more dwelling units; provided that a second kitchen, which is to be used for religious purposes and which is physically connected with the first kitchen, may be provided to the satisfaction of the Council.



The aggregate of surrounding objects, conditions and influences that affect the life and habits of humans or any other organism or collection of organisms.

Environmental Control Area
An area defined by the Council within which any development shall be subject to a development plan or any other requirement as determined by the Council.

Erection in Relation to a Building
In relation to a building or structures includes:
1. The building of a new building or structure;
2. The alteration, conversion or addition to, a building or structure;
3. The re-erection of a building or structure which has completely or partially been demolished.

A piece of land in an approved township, registered in the Deeds Registry as an erf, plot or stand or shown as such on a General Plan of a proclaimed township.

Executive Council
The Executive Council of the Gauteng Province, established under Section 132 of the Constitution.

Existing Building
A building erected in conformity with building plans approved by the Council and which is otherwise lawful and the erection of which was:
i. Completed on or before the fixed date;
ii. Begun before but completed after the fixed date; or
iii. Completed in accordance with the terms of any permission granted by the Council during the preparation and until the coming into operation of this Town Planning Scheme.

Existing Use
A use carried out or in operation on an erf or site that was permitted in terms of the previous town planning scheme but which is contrary to this Town Planning Scheme. It shall remain an existing use right for a period of 15 years from the date of commencement of this Town Planning Scheme, unless the said use is altered in any way or ceases to be carried out for a period of 12 months during the 15 years. Such existing use can be extended for a further 15 years, subject to the written consent of the Council.



A man and/or woman with or without their parents and with or without children of the said man or the woman or both, living together as one household. A family can also include orphaned children living together as a family under the custodianship of an adult.

Farm Portion
A portion of land which is not an erf, agricultural holding or road and which is registered as a separate unit in the Deeds Office. Such portion is land that has not been the subject of township establishment.

Fixed Date
This is the date that this scheme came into operation via a promulgation notice.

A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of land areas from the overflow of a body of water.

Flood Water Mark
The floodlines as contemplated in Section 169(1)(a) of the Water Act, No 54 of 1956 as amended from time-to-time.

Floor Area
The sum of the gross area covered by the building at the floor level of each storey, provided that the area reasonably required for the purposes detailed below may be excluded from the calculations of the floor area, which calculations shall be clearly indicated on the building plans. Floor area shall be measured from the outer face of the exterior walls or similar supports of such building, and where the building consists of more than one storey, the total floor space shall be the sum of the floor area of all the storeys, including that of basements. Areas that may be excluded from the calculation of floor area are:
i. Any area, including a basement, which is reserved solely for parking of vehicles and loading and off-loading areas;
ii. 10% of the total floor area shall be regarded as areas required for the cleaning, maintenance, care and proper mechanical and electrical functioning of the building.

Floor Area Ratio or FAR
The ratio obtained by dividing the floor area of a building or buildings by the total area of the erf or site upon which the building(s) are erected, thus:

FAR = 

Floor Area of a building or buildings
Total Area of the Erf or Site upon which The building(s) are erected

Funeral Parlour
Property where the deceased are prepared for burial or cremation and includes facilities for associated administrative and religious functions but does not include a crematorium.



A building for the parking of motor vehicles, and includes a carport but does not include a public garage or filling station.

General Plan
A cadastral plan of a township, which has been approved in terms of the Land Survey Act No 8 of 1997.

Ground Floor or Ground Storey
A floor at ground level or a floor having its entrance directly accessible from natural ground level by means of a ramp, stairway or similar structure, provided that:
i. Subject to (ii) below, the floor level of the ground floor shall at no point, extend more than 1,5 above the lowest natural level of the ground immediately contiguous to the building
ii. Any ground floor which has a floor level higher than the distance specified in (i) above shall, for the purpose of determining height, be considered part of two storeys incorporating both the ground floor and the next storey above, being the second storey. Refer to Clause 28 for further details.

Guest House
A converted dwelling house or dwelling unit whereby the resident family/person lets out individual rooms for temporary residential accommodation, with or without meals, with the proviso that all amenities and the provision of meals and beverages shall be for the sole benefit of bona fide guests and the resident family/person. The premises shall not be used for functions such as conferences, promotions and/or receptions.



Habitable Room
A room designed or used for human habitation in accordance with standards prescribed by the by-laws but excludes a storeroom. Any habitable room, either as itself along with ancillary uses or as part of a suite of habitable rooms shall be defined as a dwelling unit.

The vertical dimensions of the building from the natural ground level to the highest point of the building measured in meters or in number of storeys; provided that:
i. The height restriction which refers to storeys does not apply to roofs, domes, chimneys, flues, masts and antennae; and
ii. Elevator motor rooms, satellite dishes, ventilation shafts, water tanks, air conditioning plant and equipment on top of a building, shall be regarded as a storey, unless enclosed within the roof or hidden behind parapet walls, not exceeding 2,0 m in height, in which case it shall be counted as part of the top storey.

Land and buildings used and designed for landing and taking off of helicopters and may include a terminal for passengers. This use is permitted in all Use Zones other than “Residential 1, 2 and 3” with the consent of the Council.

Home Enterprise
Subject to the provisions of Clause 21, the practicing of a profession or occupation from a dwelling house/unit by one or more occupants of the dwelling house/unit; provided the dominant use of the dwelling house/unit concerned shall remain for the living accommodation of the permanent occupant/s of the dwelling house/unit, and the property complies with the requirements contained in this Town Planning Scheme.

A place for the diagnosis and treatment of human illness; with integrated facilities such as operating theatres and live-in accommodation for patients; and includes a clinic and medical consulting rooms.

A building used as a temporary residence for transient guests, where lodging and meals are provided, and may include:
i. A restaurant or restaurants;
ii. Associated meeting rooms, conference and entertainment facilities, recreational and service facilities that are subservient and ancillary to the dominant use of the property as a hotel; and
iii. Premises which are licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the property; but does not include an off-sales facility.

House shop
Is defined as part of the dwelling house or attached outbuilding to the dwelling house, which provides a necessary local retail function to the community, supplying essential pre-packed and/or pre-wrapped items and/or foodstuff, excluding liquor and meat. A house shop is not a general business or retail function on a residential erf and the residential component remains the main use of the erf.



Industrial Purposes
The use of a building or land or part thereof as a factory and in which an article or part of such article is made, manufactured, produced, built, assembled, compiled, printed, ornamented, processed, treated, adapted, repaired, renovated, rebuilt, altered, painted (including spray painting), polished, finished, cleaned, dyed, washed, broken up, disassembled, sorted, packed, chilled, frozen or stored in cold storage; including offices, caretaker’s quarters or other uses which are subservient and ancillary to the use of the property as a factory; and includes a warehouse, the generation of electricity; the developing or processing of photographs, films or tapes; refuse disposal sites; and abattoir but does not include a noxious trade or risk activity.

Informal Trading
The legal selling of products in areas demarcated by the Council specifically for these purposes, such as markets and other demarcated areas, ensuring that each informal trader has a valid and applicable trading permit as determined by the by-laws.

A welfare or charitable facility such as home for the aged, indigent or handicapped; a hospital, clinic or nursing home, a sanatorium; or any other institution whether public or private and includes all uses ancillary, directly related to and subservient to the main use, but excludes primary office and administrative functions.

Interested Party
Any person or body who, in accordance with the provisions of the Town Planning Scheme and within any time period prescribed, has submitted in writing any objection, comment or representation in respect of any matter in this Town Planning Scheme providing for objections, comments or representations.



A room or part of a room equipped for preparing and/or cooking meals.



Land with or without improvements, including land covered with water. It can also mean erf, place, property, plot, lot, holding and/or farm portion.

The placement of plants, contoured features, water features, paving, street furniture and other soft and hard elements, for the purposes of enhancing aesthetic appeal, environmental management, amenity and value of a property.

Line of no Access
A line along any street, erf or site boundary or portion thereof prohibiting any vehicular access.

Loading Bay
An area which is clearly demarcated for loading and offloading of goods from commercial vehicles, and which has vehicular access to a public street to the satisfaction of the Council.

Local authority
Refer to the definition of “Council



Medical Consulting Rooms
A building designed for use or a building or land which is used for the following consulting practices associated with restoring or preserving health but excluding overnight or operating facilities:
Medical practitioner; dentist or dental hygienist; psychologist, optometrist; podiatrist; occupational, speech and dental therapist; physiotherapist; radiographer; audiologist; dietician; orthotist; medical orthotist; and prosthetist; veterinarian; chiropractor; homeopath; naturopath; osteopath and herbalist; Provided that where the Council adds to such list such additions shall also be deemed to be included in the above definition. This use falls under the ambit of business purposes unless separately defined.

An intermediate floor in a building. For the purposes of measuring height, a mezzanine shall be counted as a storey.

Mining Purposes
All land and associated buildings that were previously outside the bounds of a Town Planning Scheme and that have now been incorporated for management by the Council on which an enterprise is carried out which extracts raw materials from the earth, whether by means of surface or underground methods, and includes, but is not limited to, the removal of stone, sand, clay, kaolin, ores, minerals, gas and precious stones; and also includes the processing of such raw materials by means of crushing, cutting or polishing. Such land and/or buildings may include agricultural land and land owned by Mining Houses which have been deregulated.

Mobile Dwelling Unit
A factory assembled transportable structure, constructed in accordance with the requirements of the S.A.B.S. specification for Mobile Homes, with the necessary service connections, and designed as a permanent dwelling unit.

Motor Showrooms
The use of buildings or land for the display and sale of new and/or used motor vehicles and accessories, ancillary offices and workshops, all of which shall be within an enclosed building.

Motor Workshop and Services
The use of buildings or land for the repair, maintenance and servicing of motor vehicles including the installation of parts and accessories.

Refer to the definition of “Council

Municipal Purposes
Such purposes as the municipality may be authorized to carry out in terms of its powers and functions and shall include all municipal land uses as well as such uses as sewerage works and reservoirs and their related buildings.



National Building Regulations
The National Building Regulations made in terms of section 17 of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act No.103 of 1977, as amended.

Natural Ground Level
The level of the land surface in its unmodified state as established from a contour plan.

Nature Reserve
A national park or environmental conservation area that has been declared as a nature reserve in terms of legislation, whether in public or private ownership, for the purpose of conserving and managing wild life, flora and fauna in their natural habitat; it includes conservation use but does not include tourist facilities or tourist accommodation. Refer to “Conservation” and “Public Open Space”.

The owner of the erf or site which is contiguous to the application erf or site, even though it may be separated by a road or panhandle, except if indicated differently by the Municipality.

Noxious Industry
An activity where any one or more of the following activities are carried out: Blood boiling; tallow melting; fat melting or extracting; soap boiling; bone boiling; tripe boiling or cleaning; skin storing; bone storing; fellmongering; skin curing; blood drying; gut scraping; leather dressing; tanning; glue making; size making; charcoal burning; brick burning; lime burning; manure making; manure storing; parchment making; malt making; yeast making; cement works; coke ovens; salt glazing; sintering of sulphur-bearing materials; viscose works; smelting of ores and minerals; calcining; puddling and rolling or iron and other metals; conversion of pig-iron into wrought iron; re-heating; annealing; hardening; forging; converting and carburizing iron and other metals; works for the production of or which employ carbon disulphide, cellulose lacquers, cyanogens or its compounds, hot pitch or bitumen, pulverized fuel, pyridine, liquid or gaseous sulphur dioxide, sulphur chlorides; works for the production of amyl acetate, aromatic esters, butyric acid, caramel enameled wire, glass, hexamine, iodoform, lampblack, B-naphthol, resin products, salicylic acid, sulphonated organic compounds, sulphur dyes, ultramarine, zinc chloride, zinc oxide; and all refining and works dealing with the processing or refining of petrol or oil or their products; Provided that where the Council adds to the list of noxious trades, such additions shall also be deemed to be included in the above definition and that all Health requirements are complied with.



Occupant or Occupier
Any person who physically inhabits or occupies a property.

Any property used for the conducting of an enterprise primarily concerned with administrative, clerical, financial or professional services, and includes medical consulting rooms and financial institutions.

A structure, whether attached or separate from the main building, which is ancillary and subservient to the main building on a land unit, and includes a building which is designed to be normally used for the garaging of motor vehicles, and any other normal activities in so far as these are usually and reasonably required in connection with the main building. In respect of a dwelling house / unit, notwithstanding the above, outbuildings may also include small store areas, garden sheds, external toilets and a domestic outbuilding which is defined as follows:
Accommodation for staff residing on the erf and exists in association with the dwelling house/unit. The extent of the domestic outbuilding shall be restricted to 20% of the built floor area of the dwelling house/unit or 50m², whichever is the lesser, provided that this restrictive requirement may be relaxed with the written consent of the Council.
The domestic outbuilding on a “Residential 1” Use Zone shall not be alienated, subdivided and/or sectionalized

The registered owner of the land which shall include the holder of a long term lease, or the holder of a land tenure right such as a permission to occupy certificate, deed of grant, leasehold or initial ownership, a designated executor, administrator, guardian or holding any other official capacity, any successor in title, a duly authorized agent.



Panhandle Erf
Any portion or erf created through subdivision or township establishment where access to such portion is gained by a part of the portion not narrower than 3m and not wider than 8m.

Parking Bay
An area measuring not less than 5,0m x 2,5m for perpendicular or angled parking and 6,0 m x 2,5 m for parallel parking, which is clearly outlined and demarcated for the parking of one motor vehicle and which is accessible to the satisfaction of the Council.

Parking Lot or Parking Garage
A place, excluding a road, street and on-site parking associated with a primary or consent use that is used for parking of motor vehicles by the public, with or without a fee, and may include parking within a building and any ancillary use, which could be in the form of a recycling facility and a caretaker’s accommodation. These uses fall under the ambit of the Parking Use Zone.

Pedestrian Mall
An area set aside such as a thoroughfare for pedestrians, for such vehicular activities as the Council may determine and for structures erected on, above or below it. This use falls under the ambit of Public or Private Street Land Use Zones.

Any unroofed horizontal or approximately horizontal grille or framework, such that the area in the horizontal projection of the solid portions thereof does not exceed 10% of the total area of the erf.

A facility with direct access from a freeway, inter city road or major transport route, which provides a range of rest, service and fueling facilities for motor vehicles, and includes emergency vehicle breakdown services.

Place of Amusement
Includes a building designed for use or a building or land which is used as a theatre, cinema, music hall, concert hall, billiards saloon, sports arena, skating rink, dance hall, casino, bingo halls, race courses, buildings for the purposes of exhibitions of trade or industry or other recreational purposes, amusement park, and also includes such uses as are ancillary, directly related to and subservient to the main use. It also includes discos, night clubs and places of live music entertainment or establishments where adult entertainment is provided.

Place of Assembly
A place which has a civic function to serve the social and community needs of an area, which may attract people in relatively large numbers and which is not predominantly a commercial enterprise; including a civic hall, concert hall, indoor sports center and club house, but does not include a place of entertainment or conference facility.

Place of Instruction
A place for education at pre-school, school or post school levels, including a crèche, nursery school, primary school, secondary school, college, technical institute, university, research institute, lecture hall; or a civic facility for the promotion of knowledge to the community such as a public library, public art gallery, museum; and associated uses such as boarding hostels, monastery, convent and all uses which are ancillary, directly related to and subservient to the main use.

Previous Scheme
A town planning scheme or similar provision that governed and controlled the use of land prior the promulgation of this Town Planning Scheme.

Primary Use
In relation to land or buildings means any use specified in this Town Planning Scheme as a primary use, being a use that is permitted without the need first to obtain the Council’s consent.

Private Open Space
Land zoned private open space, with or without access control and which can be used as a private ground for sports, play, rest and recreation, or as an ornamental garden; pleasure ground; golf course; or for buildings reasonably required in connection with such uses.

Private Parking Area
A building designed and used or land used for the provision of parking which is required or allowed in terms of the provisions of the Town Planning Scheme for another building or site or part thereof. Provided that on land zoned “Residential 1, 2, 3 or 4”, “private parking area” shall mean the use of the land and not a building.

Private Street
Land reserved for the passage or parking of motor vehicles and right-of-way, which is privately owned and does not vest in the Council or other public authority which is exclusive and ancillary to the adjoining use for obtaining access and can include access control facilities, including a guardhouse, boom or gate.

Land and all buildings and structures on a cadastrally demarcated and determined erf or site.

Public Garage
Land and building(s) used for gain or reward for any one of the following purposes:
i. Storage and retail selling of motor fuel and lubricants;
ii. All ancillary uses, including the parking and storing of motor vehicles; the sale of spare parts and accessories, car wash facilities; a convenience shop which does not exceed 30% of the total built floor area or 150m2, whichever is the lesser; a take-away or sitting down facility and automatic bank teller machines;
iii. Maintenance and repair of vehicles excluding panel beating and spray painting activities.

Public Nuisance
Any act, omission or condition which, in the Council’s opinion is offensive, injurious or dangerous to health, materially interferes with the ordinary comfort, convenience, peace or quiet of the public, or which adversely affects the safety of the public, having regard to:
i. The reasonableness of the activities in question in the area concerned, and the impacts which result from these activities; and
ii.    The ambient noise level of the area concerned

Public Open Space
Property which is under or will be under the ownership of the Council or other public authority, with or without access control, and which is set aside for the public as an open space for recreation, games, sport or cultural activity; including a park, playground, public square, picnic area, public garden, nature reserve, outdoor or indoor sports stadium, and includes associated buildings and uses as permitted by the Council, including restaurants, cafés, golf course, and any apparatus, facility, structure or building which in the opinion of the Council is necessary or expedient for the purposes of such open space.

Public Parking Area
A building used or land used, whether or not for gain or reward, for the provision of parking not related to the parking requirements or provisions of the scheme for another building or site or part thereof.

Public Road
Any road, street or thoroughfare shown on the General Plan of or township, Agricultural Holding or other division of land of which the public has acquired a right of way.



Recreation Resort
The use of land and/or buildings, due to their natural or human made attractions, for nature, natural beauty, water, socio-historical, cultural and/or sports and recreation activities. It may include swimming pools, water slides, braai facilities, camping, caravanning and wedding chapel. Such facilities can include temporary accommodation as well as uses ancillary to and subservient of such facilities, including restaurant, place of refreshment, conference and business-related activities and function facilities.

Religious Purposes
A church, synagogue, mosque, temple, oratory meeting house, chapel, cathedral or other place for practicing a faith or religion, and includes associated uses such as the official residence registered in the name of the said religious community, which is occupied by an office bearer of that community and who officiates at services held by the community, an ancillary office and place for religious instruction, but does not include a funeral parlour, cemetery or crematorium.

Residential Building
A building on an erf or site, excluding a dwelling house and/or dwelling unit, that contains habitable rooms, with or without common ablution-, kitchen-, dining- and/or lounge facilities. Such definition includes but is not restricted to hostels, hotels, dormitories, communes, boarding houses, guest houses (excluding converted dwelling houses and/or dwelling units), bed and breakfast and old age homes that may or may not include ancillary frail care facilities.

A building designed for use or building or land that is used for the service and consumption on the site of food or liquid refreshments for the general public excluding a canteen and place of amusement.



Scrap Yard
A building or land which is utilized for one or more of the following purposes:
i. Storing, depositing or collecting of junk or scrap material or articles the value of which depends mainly or entirely on the material used in the manufacture thereof;
ii. The dismantling or storage of scrap metals, second hand vehicles or machines to recover components or material; and
iii. The storing or sale of second hand parts, poles, steel, wire, lumber yards, tyres, bricks, containers or other articles which are suitable to be left in the open without any serious damage being incurred

Second Storey
The storey above the ground floor

Property used for the retail sale and accompanying storage of goods and services to the public, including a retail concern where goods which are sold in such a concern are manufactured or repaired; provided that the floor space relating to such manufacture or repair shall not comprise more than 20% of the floor space of the shop; “shop” does not include an industry, service trade, public garage or restaurant.

In relation to a building, includes the area of any building, yard, court or garden and in relation to either land or a building, may include more than one erf or portion of land, if such erven or portions of land are abutting and have been notarially tied to the satisfaction of the Council.

Social Hall
A building designed for use or buildings or land used for social meetings, gatherings and recreation, and includes a Masonic temple but does not include a place of amusement.

Spaza Shop See “House Shop

Special Building
A building designed or used for any use other than one of the uses for which the buildings herein defined are designed or used. A special building should be seen as the exception rather than the rule, an example of which could be a greenhouse.

Special Development Zone
A clearly defined area according to the cadastre that the Council has delineated for focused planning and development intervention and investment. A Special Development Zone (SDZ) will have a specific urban management focus that can include environment, transportation, urban renewal, housing and economic development related focuses. Such Special Development Zones can be added to, amended or removed in terms of Council resolution and official publication. A Special Development Zone will be indicated in terms of an Annexure.

Sport and Recreation Club
A privately owned facility that is utilized for both passive and/or active recreation by the owners and patrons of such facility. This can include a private golf course, health and fitness centre, social hall or private gardens. This however excludes any retail functions or business related activities.

That portion of a building included between the surface of any floor and the surface of the next floor above, or if there is no floor above the ceiling, provided that:
i. A basement does not constitute a storey;
ii. A roof, or dome which forms part of a roof, shall not constitute a separate storey unless the space within the roof or dome is designed for, or used for, human occupation, in which case it is counted as a storey; and
iii. The maximum height of the ground storey shall not exceed 6,0 meters and every additional 4,5 meters in height or portion thereof, shall be counted as an additional storey.
iv. The maximum height of any other storey shall not exceed 4,5 meters and every additional 4,5 meters in height or part thereof shall be counted as an additional storey.
v. The height limitations are indicated in Table 4

As out lined in Clause (25) and in terms of Section 92 of the Town Planning and Townships Ordinance, 1986 (Ordinance 15 of ’86)

Surveyor General
The Surveyor General as defined in Section 8 of the Land Survey Act, No 8 of 1997 or any amendments thereof.

Systems Act
The Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, 2000 (Act 32 of 2000) or any amendments thereof.



Tavern or Shebeen
A residential building or dwelling unit or part thereof constructed, designed or adapted for use for social gatherings and for the consumption of liquor on the premises and may include the consumption of non-alcoholic beverages and the preparation and consumption of food, but shall not include the sale of any of the aforesaid items for consumption off the premises, provided that the dominant use shall remain residential for the occupant of the said dwelling and subject to the compliance of health and safety by-laws.

As defined in the Town Planning and Townships Ordinance, Ordinance 15 of 1986, or any subsequent legislation.

Transitional Residential Settlement Area
Defined land upon which informal settlements are established by the occupation of land and provision of residential accommodation in the form of self help structures and some ancillary non-residential uses and regulated by the applicable Annexure.

Transport Facilities
A transport undertaking based on the provision of a transport service and includes a public private undertaking such as an airport or aerodrome, helistop and heliport; railway purposes, stations and related facilities; bus depot, termini and related facilities; metered and minibus taxi rank and related facilities; intermodal transfer site; and associated ancillary purposes including convenience shops, ancillary offices, customs, restaurants, security and police functions, medical facilities.



Urban Agriculture
The cultivation of crops and rearing of small numbers of livestock, on relatively small areas within the city, for own consumption or sale in neighbouring markets.

Use Zone
That part of the Town Planning Scheme, which has been shown on the zoning map by means of a specific notation or bordering or any other distinguishing manner, in order to identify the permitted use of the land.



A building used primarily for the storage of goods, except those that are offensive or dangerous, and includes property used for business of a predominantly wholesale nature.

Wall of Remembrance
A structure where containers with the ashes of the deceased are inserted in openings or niches in the structure and thereafter sealed and/or on which appropriate commemorative plaques can be attached. Such uses are part of a cemetery.

Land and/or a building used primarily for the distribution of goods to retailers.

Land used or a building designed or used for the purposes of retail or services regarding goods that are wholly or partially manufactured, processed, mounted or repaired on the property and in each case a building that is not described as a factory under the Factories, Machinery and Building Works Act of 1941 or any amendments thereof.

Written Consent
A consent applied for in writing and does not involve the procedures as set out in clauses 39 and 40



When used as a noun, means a category of directions regulating the development of land and setting out the purposes for which the land may be used and the land use or development rules applicable in respect of the said category of directions, as determined by this Town Planning Scheme.

Zoning Map
Means an approved map or maps (A and B series) showing the erven within the Council’s area of jurisdiction and applicable use/density zoning.



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Is This Electric Fence Legal and Compliant?

Can you spot the electric fence violations in this picture? We spotted this electric fence …


  1. Angela Donval

    I have been told that modular homes are not accepted by the NBR. Please advise. Kind regards

  2. What do you mean by a modular home Angela. If it doesn’t meet the normal SABS specs then you will need an agrement certificate. All materials must also meet SABS specs. But all types of homes may be built providing the correct paperwork is complied with.

  3. christiaan de bruyn

    House Plans

    Good morning
    On our approved house plans I have the following value D1; W1; W4; D4
    Can you please tell me where I can get the standard meaning for these abbreviations.

    regards and thanks Chris

  4. Hi Christiaan, Those refer to the relevant Regulations. Section D is Public Safety, D1 is the Deemed to Satisfy chapter and D4 deals with the requirements for “Change in Level”, “Ramps” & “Swimming pools and swimming baths”. Section W is Fire Installation and W1 is the Deemed to Satisfy chapter and W4 deals with Heating & Fire regulations. Hope this explains it a bit better.

  5. Can you please clarify rezoning of a guesthouse that includes for example a conference facility.

    I have noticed that many guest houses have conference/wedding facilities and also have liquor licences. This appears to be contrary to the definition above for a guest house. which in turn differs from the explanation of a guesthouse given by City Scope Town Planners which states:

    “Guesthouse – Residential facility operated for profit with a specific limited number of rooms (i.e.16 in some municipalities) which provides short term accommodation, and could include a bar, dining room, lounge and conference room for exclusive use of residents. Often it is a requirement that the manager be residing on the property.

  6. Brian you will need to contact your local authority for information that relates to zoning. Each has its own regulations and bylaws. We are also not experts in terms of the liquor laws as the do not have anything to do with the National Building Regulations.

  7. Can I build a small guardhouse (2m x 2m ) adjacent to my boundary wall without building plans and prior approval from council? Thanks .

  8. I live in an estate in Pretoria. The HOA have building rules and guidelines. These rules and guidelines exceed and are more strict than that imposed by City of Tshwane. I want to build my dream house but need building line relaxation from HOA. My building lines are still within City of Tshwane requirements.

    Is it possible for me to approach the City of Tshwane and get building approval without the HOA consent?
    Must the HOA approve my plans before City of Tshwane can approve?


  9. All structures require plans unless defined as minor building work – which this isn’t.

  10. Pieter you need to comply with the estate rules which are additional to the local authority rules. You can get CoT approval, but this will be subject to the estate rules.

  11. Hi, I am from klerksdorp, north west. My wife wants to start her pre school. We just want to know: can two child care centers co-exist on the same street (50 meters distance)?

  12. This will be covered by your council bylaws. Contact them for information.

  13. Dave Lardner

    What regulations / restrictions cover the building of a guard house on Noordhoek Cape on a 4-acre plot?
    Dave Lardner

  14. I live in Capetown…my title deed says a structure “within 12 meters of the rear , no portion shall not be used for human habitation “…may I have a toilet and basin ?…can it be used for anything other than a storeroom ?



  15. Dear sirs,
    I have a container transport business that requires a repair workshop and truck yard space for parking. What zoning will this fall under. I am based in Cape Town.

  16. Peter zoning depends on where the property is. In addition to this the National Building Regulations specify classification and designation of occupancies. I assume (though I am not 100% certain) that yours would fall under Low risk storage
    Occupancy where the material stored does not fall into the high or moderate risk category. J3. You will find the full table here.

  17. Dave ALL the National Building Regulations apply.

  18. RE: Medical research and hospital areas
    Where could I found legislative, SANS and industry standards (national and international) regarding space allocation and other safety requirements for erecting or renovation office (single occupancy with limited office equipment), office (in need of space for filing cabinet and office equipment); clinical examination rooms, room for interviewing patient; satellite labs, clinical laboratories – BSL1 -3 labs. Storage: chemical storage of chemicals, flammables, toxic, corrosives, pesticides, biological repository, isotope, biological waste, chemical waste, radio-active waste, cold rooms, cryo freezing, dry ice containers, gas cylinders, pressure equipment. autoclaves, animal research rooms, animal research theathres.

  19. What Are the specific aspects that differentiate an Agricultural holdings and Agricultural residential zoning?

  20. Zoning varies from municipality to municipality. You need to contact your local council for this information.

  21. There is some information in the NBR, but you’d do best to contact your nearest SABS office and ask them. They will do a search within their system and will be able to tell you which SANS are relevant. Better still, go to one of their libraries – they will pull standards and you can read them there.

  22. If it says not for human habitation I guess you can’t have a toilet or a basin! There must be a reason? Is there a structure there already? If so this might be a safeguard to stop extending the living space.

  23. Hi Penny,
    i Have a investor to 15 million from USA; these houses are expensive to save all wealthy people and save large farm produces from being murdered, These houses we want to build are 99.9% safe; they are completely different to all type of homes; the house do not have burglar bars or security gates; the building is built in a way that criminals cannot get to their victims or possessions even when they are not at home.
    The show house will all have the features that will give people the impression of (Wow; this is incredible), the house will be eight meters off the ground on concrete slab, the show house will consist of three bedrooms, two bathroom; but the wealthier can be design to their taste , I want to know it I can build two houses on a one hector of ground, on a plot out of municipality are or on farms; please advise ; Winston

  24. A potential buyer who wish to convert a residential property to a business asked what is [are] the restriction building height in Glenanda North south of Johannesburg?

  25. When one purchases a residential property and convert it to a business right, are there any building height restrictions in Glenanda North south of Johannesburg?

  26. You will need to check the city bylaws – it is not a National Building Reg issue.

  27. Contact the local authority – they will be able to help.

  28. You will need to apply to your local authority for approval and won’t be allowed to build without approved plans.

  29. Bruce Hansel

    What are the restrictions regarding building a car port alongside the boundry of a resinetial property ajoining a municipal street.

  30. Have units that were built on a lot zoned residential. I need to get separate water metres for each unit and I am told I need to re-zone?? What is zoning with consent?

  31. Hi

    I need to build poultry steel structure in farmall in Johannesburg. the land is zoned agricultural. do i need approval from municipality ?

  32. Does a call center fall under building classification G1?

  33. Neesa Moodley

    my backyard neighbour wants permission to put up a 30m x 10m aquaponics tunnel in my backyard. the structure will be 4m high and the permission form actually states that it is a rezoning application. Given that it is a residential area and I have invested significantly in my home, what implications does this have for me?

    also, is this rezoning likely to devalue my property going forward?
    and does signing approval mean that I sign away all rights to future objections?

  34. Can someone live in a factory, if there is a toilet and small kitchen, and offices to use as living space?.

  35. Manie Barnard


    Can my neighbour’s use their residential property as a church?

    There are 10 and more cars 24 hours in and outside the property.

  36. Good day,

    When a commercial property that has general rights are next to your residential home are they allowed to service machinary, like generators that make a loud noise and polute the air with gasses and are they allowed to have signage boards to indicate WORKSHOP.

    Also are they allowed to have these big bins that are collected by trucks right next to the wall of the residential property.


  37. How can i tell if an older home built around 1970 has asbestos ceilings ? This could be a health hazard. Home is partially renovated. Not in line with current specs SABS for new houses.

  38. Probably not legally though I’m sure many people do.

  39. If rezoning is going to affect you negatively then refuse to sign.

  40. There are companies that do testing for asbestos. I’m not sure who they are. If it is asbestos, and there is no damage, then it won’t be a health hazard. It’s when you start breaking it up and people breathe in the asbestos dust that it is harmful.

  41. I’m not sure what “general rights” are. I would think it depends what the land is zoned – i.e. what it can be used for. If the zoning allows them to operate the kind of business they are operating, I guess they can. Check with the local authority.

  42. How do the number of parking bays on the property relate to the seating in an auditorium zoned for religious purposes?

  43. Yes I believe it is

  44. Parking bays are ruled by bylaws not building regs

  45. No I don’t believe they can. Complain to the municipality.

  46. All structures require plans.

  47. Any restrictions would appear in the local authority bylaws.

  48. I’m not sure, probably with consent of neighbours.

  49. Hi. I would like to build a 4m square floor out building at the back of my yard. Do I need plans? And What are the regulations reguarding this? I have checked the site plan and the area I want to build on is clear of any surage pipes etc. I reside In newlands west durban

  50. Paddy Balsdon

    Is a builder’s yard allowed in a residential area. The yard services a contract more than 1km away.

  51. Not if the zoning is only residential. Also I think they would need a business license to operate.

  52. All buildings require plans approved by council! And all plans must be drawn up by a competent person.Furthermore, all buildings must be built according to the National Building Regulations. All the information you require is on this web site.

  53. Hi, In George we have a problem with jobless people sleeping on stoep area of shopping centers. these groups pack up in the mornings leaving their rubbish behind. They return late afternoons and camp out for the next night. These places have become their permanent homes and its not clear if current by-laws allow action to remove the people.
    The police say the owner of the buildings are responsible and they cant remove but the Council town planning must have regulations in place to support actions as no allowance could have been approved for overnight accommodation on premises without facilities like toilet and water.
    Sleeping in public places is the problem
    Thanks, any comments ??

  54. Johan this doesn’t have anything to do with building regulations!

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