A review of provincial land-use planning in the Western Cape
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Planning administration in the Western Cape is at a critical juncture. It is faced with having to address planning issues and housing needs whilst at the same time demonstrating through its practices the promotion of environmentally sustainable development. This paper will discuss planning and environmental legislation and the impact that the application of the legislation has on development proposals. Current legislation addresses issues of spacial development in developed areas and new development proposals but lacks the ability to address issues within informal settlements. Although socio-economic factors are not currently considered when assessing the viability of applications, the courts seem to consider these factors. Since new housing settlements are often developed for the poor and industrial developments in close proximity to these areas have direct impact on these individuals, planning could only gain if these factors are taken into consideration.If planning administration in the Western Cape is to continue successfully and without endless litigation against the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning administrators will have to find a balance between promoting development and protecting the environment. To promote environmentally sustainable developments will require closer cooperation between the land use planning and environmental management components. The loopholes, which permit incremental development in the present legislation, have to be identified and addressed. Guidelines, which will standardize the conditions under which applications can be approved or refused, will have to be drafted to ensure decision-making that is consistent and defensible. If having a liquor store within an affluent environment is not considered desirable such applications should not be considered within lower income areas. The same should apply when dealing with applications to establish factories or industry which will have an impact on the living conditions of communities in close proximity. The MEC will have to ensure that all decision taken are within the legal framework and that such decisions benefit entire communities and protect the rights of the poorest communities as well as that of the wealthy and influential. Environmental legislation and the growing importance of environmental protection is also having an impact on the way in which new settlements are planned and on the rights of property owners. Although, we are responsible for the preservation of the environment for the next generation, socio-economic conditions, HIV and a myriad of other considerations may have to take precedence over environmental concerns.