Shelfplett 47 (Pty) Ltd v MEC for Environmental Affairs & Development Planning and Another (16416/10)

[2012] ZAWCHC 16 (5 March 2012)

An appeal to the Western Cape High Court was successful for the owner of property in Plettenberg Bay that claimed an old guide plan could not be enforced because it was founded on race-based separate development planning principles.

‘Guide Plans’ were prepared in terms of the Physical Planning Act of 1967 (PPA), and in terms of the PPA town planning schemes may not be amended or introduced if their zoning would be inconsistent with the guide plan.

The guide plan in question, which aimed to strike a balance between orderly urban development and other land uses, was first prepared and approved in 1982/83, when apartheid legislation such as the Group Areas Act was still in force.

The 1967 PPA was amended by the Physical Planning Act No.125 of1991 which provides for regional structure plans (RSP’s) to be prepared for a planning region; the 1991 PPA does provide that the Minister may by notice declare that a guide plan should be deemed an RSP, which is what happened to the disputed guide plan in 1996.

The case highlights the levels of legislation and weight that must be considered in the planning process as the judgement concludes that the Municipal Systems Act impose a hierarchy on the adopted Integrated Development Plant (IDP), the Spatial Development Framework (SDF) developed in terms of the Land Use Planning Ordinance (LUPO) and the aforementioned RSP’s; implying that the IDP prevails over the RSP.

The judge declared the RSP to be invalid because it was found to be inconsistent with the Constitution.

A consequence of this judgement was that the Western Cape Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (the Department) was required to review all other existing guides and similar plans.

According to the website of the Department: This judgement coincided with the review date of these plans, which were to expire on 5 July 2012.  All plans were reviewed and all but 7 plans were withdrawn.

The Shelplett case also touches on the questions of an urban edge and the areas of exclusive and concurrent authority for provincial and municipal planning and supports a cooperative approach to decision making.