SPLUMA provides a framework for spatial planning and land use management in South Africa. SPLUMA:

  • Specifies the relationship between the spatial planning and the land use management system and other kinds of planning;
  • Ensures that the system of spatial planning and land use management promoted social and economic inclusion;
  • Provides for development principles and norms and standards;
  • Provides for the sustainable and efficient use of land;
  • Provides for cooperative government and intergovernmental relations amongst the national, provincial and local spheres of government; and
  • Redresses the imbalance of the past and to ensure that there is equity in the application of spatial development planning and land use management systems.

SPLUMA applies to the whole of South Africa (urban and rural areas) and governs informal and traditional land use development processes.


SPLUMA consists of 7 chapters and 3 schedules including:

  1. Definitions (Chapter 1);
  2. Development Principles and norms and Standards (Chapter 2);
  3. Intergovernmental Support (Chapter 3);
  4. Spatial Development Framework (Chapter 4);
  5. Land Use Management (Chapter 5);
  6. Development Management (Chapter 6); and
  7. General Provisions (Chapter 7).

Chapter 1 – Important definitions:

  • "Land Development" – means the erection of buildings or structures on land, on the change of use of land, including township establishment, the subdivision or consolidation of land or any deviation from the land use or uses permitted in terms of an applicable land use scheme.
  • "Land Use" – means the purpose for which land is or may be used lawfully in terms of a land use scheme, existing scheme or in terms of any other authorisation, permit or consent.
  • "Land Use Management System" – means the system of regulating and managing land use and conferring land use rights through the use of schemes and land development procedures.
  • "Township Register" – means an approved subdivision register of a township in terms of the Deeds Registries Act.
  • "Township" – means an area of land divided into erven, and may include public spaces and roads indicated as such on a general plan.
  • "Zone" – means a defined category of land use that is shown on the zoning map of a land use scheme.
  • "SDF" – means Spatial Development Framework.
  • "MPT" – means Municipal Planning Tribunal.
  • "Minister" – means the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform.

Chapter 2

Key development principles and norms and standards include:

  • "Spatial justice" – past spatial and other developments imbalances must be redressed through improved access to and use of land;
  • A Municipal Planning Tribunal cannot be impeded in its discretion on the ground that the value of the land / property is affected by the outcome of the application;
  • "Spatial sustainability" - promote land development that is within the fiscal, institutional and administrative means of South Africa, protect prime and unique agricultural land, comply with environmental laws and limit urban sprawl;
  • "Efficiency" – land development must optimise the use of existing resources and infrastructure and decision making procedures must be designed to minimise negative financial, social, economic or environmental impact; and
  • "Spatial Resilience"- flexibility in spatial plans is accommodated to ensure sustainable livelihoods.

Chapter 4 – Spatial Development Framework

The national and provincial spheres of Government and each Municipality must prepare Spatial Development Frameworks. A Municipal Planning Tribunal may not make a decision that is inconsistent with the Municipal Spatial Development Framework; they can only depart from a Municipal Spatial Development Framework if site-specific circumstances justify a departure.

Chapter 5 – Land Use Management

  • A municipality must adopt and approve a single land use scheme for its entire area within 5 years from the commencement of the Act;
  • Land use scheme must be consistent with the Municipal Spatial Development Framework and must promote:
  • Economic growth;
  • Social inclusion;
  • Efficient land development; and
  • Minimal impact on public health, the environment and natural resources.
  • Land may be used only for the purposes permitted by:
  • A land use scheme; and
  • A town-planning scheme.
  • Land use schemes must be reviewed every 5 years.
  • Section 28 "Amendment of Land Use Scheme and Rezoning" may be amended to achieve the development goals and objectives of the Municipal Spatial Development Framework (“MSDF”); and
  • Section 28(4) – any change to the land use scheme of a Municipality affecting the scheme regulations may only be authorised by the Municipal Council.

Chapter 6 – Land Development Management

  • Section 33 – all development applications must be submitted to a Municipality;
  • Establishment of Municipal Planning Tribunals (MPTs):
  • These must be established in order to determine land use and development applications; and
  • Certain land use and land development applications may be considered and determined by an official in the employ of the Municipality (designated official or “DO”).
  • Section 36 Composition of Municipal Planning Tribunals:
  • Consists of officials in the full time service of the Municipality;
  • Consists of persons appointed by the Municipal Council who are not Municipal Officials but have knowledge and experience of spatial planning, land use management and land development or law related;
  • Municipal Councillors may not be appointed as members of a Municipal Planning Tribunal;
  • Made up of at least 5 members or more; and
  • The term of office is 5 years or less and members may not serve for a continuous period of 10 years.
  • Section 39 allows a Municipal Planning Tribunal a right to co-opt, appoint or employ the services of technical or other advisers.
  • Section 40 – at least 3 members of the Tribunal must hear, consider and decide on a matter before it.
  • Types of applications which may be heard by the tribunal are:
  • Change/s to the use, form or function of the land;
  • Removal, amendment or suspension of a restrictive condition;
  • Township establishment;
  • Subdivision of land;
  • Consolidation of pieces of land; and
  • The amendment of a land use or town-planning scheme (except any change affecting the scheme regulation).
  • Conditional approval of an application lapses if a condition is not complied with within a period of 5 years from the date of approval (if no period for compliance is specified in such approval);
  • Section 45 – a person claiming to be an interested person in a land development application or an appeal has the burden of establishing his / her status as an interested person;
  • Section 45(6) –consent in a title deed may be granted by a Municipality;
  • Section 51 provides for internal appeals to the executive authority of the Municipality as the appeal authority;
  • Section 51(5) – an interested person for the purposes of an appeal must be a person having a pecuniary or proprietary interest or able to demonstrate that he / she will be adversely affected by the decision of the Planning Tribunal or an appeal in respect of such a decision; and
  • External appeals – a body or institution outside of the Municipality must assume the obligation of an appeal authority.

Chapter 7 – General Provisions

  • Section 53 – the registration of any property resulting from a land development application may not be performed unless the Municipality certifies that all the requirements and conditions for the approval have been complied with;
  • Section 57 – the power to decide development applications may not be impeded or stopped solely on the grounds that the value of a property is affected by exercise of such power or performance of a function;
  • Schedule 1 of the Act empowers Provincial Governments to pass their own pieces of legislation regulating land development, land use management;
  • Schedule 2 contains a list of land use purposes; and
  • Schedule 3 contained a list of repealed laws of SPLUMA.


Regulations are contained in the following 7 Chapters:

  1. Chapter 1 – Introductory Provisions
  2. Chapter 2 – Application of Regulation and Conflict Management
  3. Chapter 3 – Ministerial Policies, Directives and Guidelines and Obligations
  4. Chapter 4 – Land Use Management
  5. Chapter 5 – Joint Municipal Planning Tribunal
  6. Chapter 6 – Land Development Applications
  7. Chapter 7 – Appeals

Chapter 1 (Introductory Provisions)

Important definitions include:

  • "Land Development Application" means one of the following applications submitted to a Municipality:
  • Rezoning;
  • Consent uses and departures;
  • Temporary uses, the subdivision or consolidation of land
  • Alteration, suspension or deletion of reconstructions in relation to land;
  • Establishment of a township;
  • Exclusion of boundaries of a township;
  • Amendment or cancellation of a general plan; and
  • Any other development on land.
  • "Land Development Officer" means the official authorised by the Municipality to consider and determine applications identified in Regulation 52;
  • "Registrar" means land development management registrar appointed in terms of Regulation 40/62 or the registrar of the appeal authority;
  • Electronic Land Development Application submissions are allowed.

Chapter 2 (Application of Regulation and Conflict Management)

Chapter 3 (Ministerial Policies, Directives, Guidelines and other Obligations)

Chapter 3 empowers the Minister to issue guidelines to Municipalities regarding any of their functions under the Act. The Municipalities must have regard to those guidelines in the performance of their functions.

Chapter 4 (Land Use Management)

There must be one land use scheme for an entire area covering land within its traditional authorities. Land use schemes must:

  • Incorporate environmental requirements (Regulation 23);
  • Incorporate agricultural land – protection of valuable land (Regulation 24);
  • Be aligned with integrated transport plans (Regulation 25);
  • Take into account infrastructure requirements (Regulation 26);
  • Have their own regulations (Regulation 27); and
  • Prepare maps (Regulation 28).

Chapter 5 (Joint Municipal Planning Tribunal – “JMPT”)

District Municipalities may establish Joint Municipal Planning Tribunals. Composition of a JMPT includes:

  • At least one official of each participating municipality in the full time service of the Municipality; and
  • Persons who are not municipal officials but who have knowledge and experience of spatial planning.

Municipal councillors cannot be members of a JMPT. In terms of an appeal against a decision of

JMPT, an Appeal Tribunal must be established by the participating Municipalities. An Appeal

Tribunal must be made up of:

  • A person in the employ of the participating Municipality or other organ of state;
  • A registered planner;
  • A practising registered engineer; and
  • A practising advocate or attorney.

No member of the Municipal Planning Tribunal may serve on the Appeal Tribunal.

Chapter 6 (Land Development Applications)

Category 1 Land Applications include:

  • Establishment of a township or the extension of the boundaries of a township;
  • The amendment of an existing scheme or land use scheme by the rezoning of land;
  • Removal, amendment or suspension of a restrictive or obsolete condition, servitude or reservation registered against the title of the land;
  • The amendment or cancellation in whole or in part of a general plan of a township;
  • The subdivision and consolidation of any land; and
  • Permanent closure of any public space.

Category 2 Land Applications include:

  • The subdivision of any land where the subdivision is expressly provided for in a land use scheme;
  • Consolidation of any land;
  • Consent which does not constitute a land development application; and
  • Removal, amendment or suspension of a restrictive title condition relating to the density of residential development on a specific erf.

Category 1 land development applications and all opposed category 2 land development applications must be referred to the tribunal.

Persons dealing with land development include:

  • The Land Development Officer - considers and determines all category 2 land development applications that are not opposed. He / she is a full time employee of the Municipality and is not prohibited from serving on the tribunal as a tribunal member;
  • The Land Development Management Administrator - accepts applications (duties can be found in Regulation 61); and
  • The Land Development Management Registrar (Regulation 63) – manages the administrative affairs of the tribunal.

Chapter 7 (Appeals)


  • Application is made
  • The Administrator has 7 days to notify the applicant if information needs to be provided (if so, then such information must be provided within 14 days)
  • If the applicant fails to provide the information then the application is considered abandoned and is withdrawn
  • If the application is complete, the administrator then issues an advisory of commencement process
  • 7 days after the issue of advisory, the land development application is registered
  • The applicant is notified of registration within 14 days of registration and the application is circulated to other departments / service providers and organ of state for comment
  • The applicant has to issue a notice of a category within 14 days of being notified of the registration of the application
  • The applicant must provide the Administrator with proof within 30 days of the publication of the first notice
  • Interested parties have 30 days to lodge an objection
  • The government departments have 60 days to comment from the date of issuing of the circular
  • Applicant has 30 days to submit comments to any objection or lodge a waiver on the right to reply
  • The application must be given to the Tribunal within 7 days of the comment expiry period
  • For Category 2 applications, if no objection is received, then it is forwarded to the Land Development Officer who has 60 days to consider it and make a determination
  • Tribunal has 7 days from the date it receives the application to set it down. The hearing must take place no sooner than 60 days and no later than 90 days after the expiry of the period permitted for comments
  • Applicants must, 14 days prior to the hearing, notify the tribunal whether they intend to appear at the hearing
  • Applicants must, 28 days prior to hearing, notify the tribunal of their intentions to call an expert witness and must supply a summary of expert evidence
  • Applicants must, 21 days before the hearing, provide expert evidence to other parties
  • The Tribunal must, within 30 days of the last day of the tribunal hearing, make a decision and give reasons for the decision taking into account:
    • Environmental concerns;
    • Heritage and cultural factors;
    • Mining impacts;
    • Issues of urgency; and
    • Any other matter the tribunal may deem necessary to consider.
  • Parties then have 21 days in which to lodge an appeal against the decision
  • Within 21 days of the tribunal making its decision, the Administrator must notify the parties of the decision
  • Regulation 94 provides that a decision of the Tribunal or the Land Development Officer does not come into effect until:
    • The period of 21 days within which an appeal may be lodged has expired and no appeals have been lodged; or
    • The matter has been decided by an appeal authority (in the case where an appeal has been lodged).