The South African Property Owners Association (Sapoa) is taking legal action against the City of Johannesburg (COJ) over an act which will wreck developments in the city.
Sapoa this week launched a High Court application against the COJ interdicting it from applying the 2021 Development Contributions Policy (DCP) and declaring that the City may not impose any condition on the granting of a land development application which requires the applicant to pay a development charge or contribution relating to services and/or infrastructure other than required by the development to which the application relates.
Sapoa CEO Neil Gopal said the COJ was treading on dangerous ground with its misunderstood proposal.
“In October 2021, the COJ published the final version of the impugned policy. During the public participation process before the publication of the policy, Sapoa participated and then expounded upon various difficulties and concerns it identified with the draft policy in a memorandum, submitted to the COJ on 1 June 2021,” said Sapoa CEO Neil Gopal on Friday.
“Prior to 2021, we engaged with the COJ and made submissions to them which were ignored. The DC policy is vague, irrational and unreasonable,” he said.
He said that if implemented, the DC policy would effectively enable the COJ to levy charges which have the effect of compelling developers to cross-subsidise developments which are unrelated to their applications.
“This is unprecedented and Sapoa has made out a cogent case in its founding papers that the COJ’s policy is not authorised by any national legislation and is unlawful. Because of the wide-reaching impact of the policy, its legality should be determined without delay. We have therefore approached the Deputy Judge President to facilitate the matter being heard on an expedited basis,” he said.
Sapoa which is the largest representative body of property owners in South Africa has been talking to the COJ for two years.
“We have been in discussion with the COJ’s previous administration for more more than two years,” he said.
The DC policy introduced a new development contributions regime, sometimes referred to as bulk services contributions, which rescinds the current calculators and procedures used to determine these amounts due to the COJ, in cases where property developers apply to the COJ in terms of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (Spluma) for rezoning and ancillary property development consents, Gopal said.
He explained that Sapoa wants an interdict to restrain the respondent, being the COJ, from implementing its 2021 DC policy.
Gopal said he was disappointed that the new mayor, Mpho Phalatse’s regime was implementing a problematic policy developed by a previous administration.
“We are perplexed that a policy which we believe is unconstitutional and which was developed by the previous ANC led administration, is now being implemented without any change by a new coalition led administration,” he said.
“Our view is that most municipalities are failing in their constitutional responsibilities to provide services to the public. They are also badly run and have serious financial difficulties. We are therefore, as business and citizens, being taxed through a myriad of levies and taxes, of which the development contributions policy and an unsustainable rates regime, a mechanism to generate more revenue,” Gopal said.