Answer ... Among other things, the Urban and Regional Planning Act sets out the development, planning and administration principles, standards and requirements for urban and regional planning processes and systems. This act repealed the Town and Country Planning Act (Chapter 283 of the Laws of Zambia).
Part VI of the Urban and Regional Planning Act provides for planning applications and permission. Section 49 of the act provides that “a person shall not carry out any development on land, change use of land or subdivide any land without planning permission”.
Section 2 of the Urban and Regional Planning Act defines ‘development’ to include building or rebuilding as well as subdivision of land. Thus, for any construction or subdivision of land, planning permission must be obtained.
Section 52 of the Urban and Regional Planning Act provides that planning permission for development will be granted by way of development permits. It further provides that an application for planning permission must be made to the planning authority (regional, provincial or local, as defined in Section 2).
If an application for a development permit involves a major development, the planning authority will not consider the application unless the applicant has given 14 days’ notice of intent to make an application.
Anyone that intends to oppose an application for the grant of a development permit can do so in writing, specifying the reasons for the objection.
Section 55 of the Urban and Regional Planning Act affords the planning authority 90 days from receipt of application for a major development or change of land use, or 28 days for any other development, to grant, defer or reject the application for a development permit.
Subdivision: To obtain planning permission for subdivision, the applicant must first obtain sketch plans for the property to be subdivided. These are obtained by engaging a surveyor to survey the land and prepare sketch plans in respect of the land.
Once the sketch plans have been prepared, an application for approval of the subdivision must be delivered to the relevant council (planning authority). The following documents must be submitted to the council for the purpose of subdividing land:
- eight copies of the sketch plans drawn to scale, with properties to be numbered and underlined in red ink and road reserves underlined in blue ink;
- one certified copy of the title deed for the plots;
- a complete application form; and
- a copy of the receipt for the scrutiny fees (currently ZMW 584.62).
The planning authority has 28 days from receipt of the application to grant, defer or reject the application.
On or before the lapse of 28 days, the planning authority will decide whether to grant planning.
Construction: The first step to obtain planning permission for the construction of property is to log on to the website of the city council in the city in which the planning permission is sought. The drawings of the building to be constructed and the certificate of title to land must also be uploaded on the ‘Metro Manager’ section of the website.
The website will then automatically generate an invoice for the costs. These cannot be ascertained in advance because the automatically generated invoice takes into account various factors such as the area in which the building will be constructed.
The amount specified in the invoice must then be deposited into the bank account of the city council.
Once a receipt of payment of the amount specified in the invoice is presented to the city council, the drawings that were initially uploaded will be scrutinised by the planning committee, comprised of councillors, to decide whether to grant planning permission.
The length of this process will depend on the schedule for sittings of the committee (these are held every two months on average) and the number of applications that are considered per sitting.