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MEDIA RELEASE: STATEMENT BY THE FIXED CAPITAL AND PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT WAR ROOM TEAM ON SUCCESSES IN THE FIRST THREE MONTHS

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Date: 12 November 2019 | Source: On behalf of the fixed capital and property development War Room team

Half way into the pilot project, the work of the War Room team focused on tackling systemic issues in the construction industry has resulted in tangible successes.

The War Room was established by Premier Alan Winde earlier this year to tackle systemic issues in key growth areas which, if unblocked, will lead to job creation.

The construction team, comprising city and provincial officials and public entity members, was established to tackle challenges in the sector in a collaborative way.

The Stats SA quarterly labour force survey shows that 29 000 jobs were lost in the construction industry in the 3rd quarter, highlighting the urgent need for positive action to assist the industry in its turnaround.

To date the team has held more than 50 engagements with the private sector and government officials in order to understand the burning issues preventing business growth.

In almost every interview, issues relating to heritage and planning were raised, and it was decided to focus on these crucial areas first.

Among the team’s successes to date are:

  1. The advert calling for new heritage committee members was widened from needing a qualification and interest in heritage resource management to a qualification or interest in heritage resource management. This is to ensure a more balanced committee, and we are pleased to have heard directly from architects and developers that they have applied.
  2. The agendas of the Heritage Western Cape Built Environment and Landscape Committee (BELCOM) meetings are now fully timed, with each applicant being given a specific slot to appear before the committee. Applicants no longer need to wait around for their item to come up, saving them time and professional fees..
  3. The City of Cape Town has sent Heritage Western Cape its inventory of heritage properties, which will be workshopped and tabled at an upcoming council meeting. Once approved, this document will serve as the heritage asset database for the City, giving clarity to City and HWC officials, as well as to the private sector, on which buildings and spaces are worthy of being assessed for their conservation value. It is estimated that 70% of cases currently serving before heritage committees could and should have been dealt with in the city planning processes, and going forward, this will be the case.
  4. The team has completed a capacity review of HWC, and has submitted a request to Province for the funding of vacant posts. This will ramp up the capacity of the team to process applications, and will unlock the possibility of a second BELCOM meeting each month.
  5. An assessment of the technical needs of HWC has been conducted, and the process of installing additional software and hardware which will improve their efficiency has begun.
  6. The team is in the process of creating a regular joint forum between the private sector, HWC, City Planning and the Western Cape Government EIA team. The EIA team has previously held such a session independently, which has yielded positive results in terms of processes, as well as greater understanding and trust. This step is designed to drive collaboration and better communication, towards more streamlined processes.
  7. The City of Cape Town has adopted the amendments to the Municipal Planning By-Laws, which are due to be proclaimed by year end. These, for example, will once again allow applicants to request a 10% deviation without rezoning, and prescribe specific forms for appeals, adding rigour to this process. A more thorough By-Law review will take place next year as the City looks to further enhance its processes.

 

In addition to these successes, the team is also currently investigating other interventions which could result in improved ease of doing business for the property and construction industry.

These include initial steps toward the potential of a single public participation process and more streamlined application process across all three spheres of government.

The team will continue to investigate systemic challenges in the industry for the remainder of the six-month War Room pilot project. In addition to the systemic interventions by the War Room team, the Western Cape Government’s Red Tape Reduction Unit continues to tackle issues on a case by case basis in an effort to reduce costly red tape across all industries in the province. For red tape issues, please contact redtape@westerncape.gov.za