City Planning Department ensures that upcoming structures in the city suit an orderly, aesthetically urban development pattern for a safe, healthy and habitable environment. This can be achieved through adherence to building regulations and requirements provided for in the laws governing the development process in the urban areas.
These are as follows:
Submission of infrastructure plans
Prior to the commencement of any development works, a developer is required by Law under the Town and Country Planning Act and the Public Health (Building) Regulations to obtain Planning Permission to develop land and a Building permit from the Local Authority to erect a structure. The developer is required to submit a set of four copies of the building plans.
These should include:-
- Floor plan, Section, Elevations, Site and Location plans and certified true copies of ownership Documents (Title Deeds or Occupancy License).
- Application Forms which include Form 1 and Form T and CP 1(Rev).
- The developer is also required to pay stage inspection fees & scrutiny fee, which varies according to land use and location.
The submitted building plans are scrutinized by three (3) departments of the City Council of Lusaka before recommendations to Plans, Works, Development and Real Estate (PWDRE) Committee for either outright approval, approval with conditions or disapproval. This is followed by Full Council for ratification of grant of Planning Permission to develop after which a Building Permit is issued.
A Building Permit allows a developer to start developing within six (6) months failure to which the permit elapses and has to be renewed. Construction should be completed within eighteen (18) months from the date it is granted.
In an instance where the PWDRE Committee takes time to convene, planning permission in principle is granted to the developer before the application is presented to the PWDRE Committee for the final approval of the building plans. This can only be considered upon the successful completion of the plan scrutiny by the various technical departments of Lusaka City Council.
Application to Develop
Any construction being undertaken in the city has to be inspected by the Building Inspectors.
To the Approved building plans will be attached a set of inspection slips which the developer must fill and forward to the Building Inspectorate. These notices act as a request for Building Inspectors to go and inspect the development.
By Law, the following (6) stages of any construction must be inspected:
There are: –
- Damp and Ant Courses
- Completed up to wall plate level
- Completed and ready for occupation
When a structure is completed the developer is required to obtain an Occupation Certificate from the Local Authority. An Occupation Certificate is a permit allowing the developer to occupy and start using the structure.
Building Inspection Slip
These are changes made to a building plan which do not structurally change its’ external design or appearance. Such changes mainly border on internal alterations to an existing structure. Any proposed variations made to a building plan must be submitted to Council for scrutiny.
This is issued under the Public Health Act. Building inspectors submit reports of inspection of a complete development to certify whether the construction carried out was in accordance with the approved plan and whether the structure underwent the stages of inspection to ensure that the mixtures and block works were according to the recommended standards.
Illegal development occurs when a developer undertakes developments without planning permission from the Planning Authority. This may include development of a new structure or making changes to an existing structure or material change of use of the structure. In some instances, the developer may be required to regularize the development or demolish the structure completely.
Before a structure is demolished an Enforcement Notice is served on the illegal developer as required under Section 31 of the Town and Country Planning Act (Cap 283) of the Laws of Zambia.
The Enforcement Notice gives 28 days in which the remedy to the breach can be carried out failure to which the structure may be demolished. The City Council is empowered to recover the cost of demolishing the structure from the illegal developer. The Lusaka City Council uses demolitions as one way of development control in the City like in the case of squatters, land invaders etc.
Inspections for Licensing reports
Inspections for licensing reports are carried out on request from the Department of Legal Services. The building inspectorate section will visit and inspect the premises to check on whether the following are available: –
- Grant of planning permission
- Grant of Occupation Certificate
- Conditions of the structure and premises- both internally and externally
Change of land Use and re-designation
The City of Lusaka has undergone major transformation in terms of land use. This has been among other factors due to the inability to expand the Central Business District (CBD) so as to accommodate the increased business activities in the country.
Change of land use
Urban land is demarcated into different land uses such as residential, institutional, agricultural and commercial. This process of demarcation is referred to as zoning. In the recent past, it has been observed that residential areas especially those near the CBD are being encroached upon by other land uses especially commercial activities. The result is a conversion of land use from the originally planned use to another.
There are Acceptable and Unacceptable uses in as far as change of use is concerned. The acceptable uses include: Office type uses, servicing (i.e. hairdressing, shoe repairs, clothing manufacturing and trading etc.). The Unacceptable uses include car repair, haulage contracting, animal breeding, forging, joinery, storage and processing of dangerous materials generally, e.g. cellulose spraying, upholstery, manufacturing of paper and straw goods etc. The vision is to encourage development which will enhance the quality of life by allowing a mix of compatible and environmentally friendly uses in the residential area.
What it entails
When a parcel of land is changed from one use to another, it entails that City Council of Lusaka would make modifications to the approved Development Plan. The recent trend in Lusaka where land owners decide to change the use of their land on experimental basis has proved to be a great problem to the Planning Authority because it becomes difficult to constantly change the Development Plan and more still it does not promote sustainable development. It is therefore important that land owners are fully aware of the implications of converting their land.
When to apply for Change of Land use
The Town and Country Planning Act CAP 283 of the Laws of Zambia requires that before land is converted from one gazetted use to another, authority should be obtained for its conversion.
It is important to note that before obtaining other certificates such as those from other Council departments and the Line Ministries, that one obtains permission for change of land use if they intend to use a gazzeted use for other uses.
The procedure for change of land use is therefore as follows;
Standard forms have to be obtained from the City Planning Department. There is an application and processing fee that is attached to each application and it is charged per square meter of the plot and a check list of requirements for a complete application to be lodged in.
- When the application is lodged in, the site will be inspected and a NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC about the intended change of use is prepared for publication to enable the affected parties or stake holders to have a say in the change that will take place in their surroundings. This is as per the requirement of the laws to encourage public participation.
- The cost of publishing the NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC in the print media is borne by the applicant. A copy of the Notice is obtained from the City Planning Department at no fee. The notice is then run in a print media or GAZZETE for at least three (3) consecutive days.
- The period in which the objections or representations may be lodged with the Minister of Local Government and Housing or the Lusaka City council is twenty-eight (28) days from the first day of the advert.
- When the twenty- eight days have elapsed, a report concerning the area of interest is presented to first PWDRE Committee and then to the full Council meeting for determination.
- The Council recommendations are sent to the Minister of Local Government and housing for the Minister’s determination.
- The applicant is finally informed of the final outcome.
In the event where an application is approved and the applicant is already operating, a penalty fee is slapped on the operating applicant. If this fee is not paid to the City of Lusaka Planning Authority, the premises are supposed to close down and the applicant prosecuted.
Change of use application forms
The implications to change the use of land can be summed up as follows;
There is a consequent change in property tax. In a situation where one is changing from General Residential to Business, property tax is expected to increase and vice versa. Utility bills are also expected to follow suit.
A Penalty fee is payable to the Council in the event that a land owner has started operating before obtaining approval. This fee is three (3) times the Change of use fee.
- The existing development is modified to suit the changed use. This may mean that some changes, and improvement can be done to the development and some facilities that suit the changed use can be introduced.
- However it should be noted that, such changes should be within the acceptable context of the approved original zoning. After approval, the Development plan is modified to indicate the changed use, which means that for the applicant to revert back to the previous use, a change of use has to be done following the same process.
Re-designation applies to Statutory Housing Areas and as such the conversion is not for the land but for the building structure. Unlike Change of Land use, permission for re-designation is granted by the Local Authority. And no running of the Notice to the public is required. This means that re-designation applications are determined by the Planning Authority, in this case Lusaka City Council.
However, similar application process and fees to that of change of land use also apply.