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System improvements made on development plan application processes within the City’s Development Planning, Environment and Management Unit have more than halved the expected turnaround times for applications.

This was revealed during an EDGE Construction Webinar held between construction industry stakeholders and the City on Tuesday where several topics were discussed with the aim of creating a more conducive environment for the construction sector.

The Session was facilitated online by Russell Curtis from the Invest Durban Unit.

Head of Development Planning, Environment and Management Unit, Lihle Phewa said the pilot phase of these improvements reduced turnaround times by 23 days for applications above 500m2 and by 16 days for applications below 500m2.

According to Phewa, process reviews, system automation and being customer focused as some of the key interventions that have improved their systems.

Legislatively, development plan applications of more than 500m2 could take up to 60 days to reach a decision and those below 500m2 could take up to 30 days as per provisions of National Building Regulations.

“The industry had asked us to try and halve these turnaround times from the lengthy processes, and we have achieved more than that, plus we are looking at ways to improve our systems and processes even further,” said Phewa.

Among plans for further improvement are the enhancement of institutional capacity, review of the Planning and Land Use Management Bylaws and influencing appropriate legislative changes, he said.

Speaking on the Economic Development Property Rates Incentives Policy, as another initiative aimed at revitalising the construction sector, Programme Manager for the Business Environment Enhancement Programme, Dr Nuthan Maharaj noted success of its implementation from 2016 to date.

Over the past five years, the City has attracted more than R10 billion investment and successful applicants have received rebates totalling over R30 million per annum, she said.

“The policy aims to encourage urban regeneration, to create an investor-friendly City, to enhance the ease and reduce the cost of doing business. It is an inclusive policy as small, medium and large companies can qualify in one or all of the incentives categories,” explained Dr Maharaj.

Adding the voice of the private sector, Chief Executive Officer for Rokwil Civils and Chairperson for the South African Property Owners Association KZN, Bernadette Khumalo emphasized the need for more speed in Government when doing business , less red tape, and better delivery of projects to the market in order to enhance job creation and sustainability in the industry.

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