Emmarentia Residents Association info@era.org.za (000) 111-1111

FAQs – The new Land Use Scheme and Emmarentia

ERA’s town planner, Gemey Abrahams, answers your questions on the key parts of the new Land Use Scheme which relate to Residential 1—the zoning applicable to most properties in Emmarentia

What exactly does the new Scheme regulate?

* Land uses are governed by different zoning. Each zone gives specific rights to use and develop property – e.g. residential, commercial, industrial.

Your zoning gives you primary rights that allow certain uses automatically without needing to apply for consent.

Secondary rights must be applied for. Some rights are prohibited (e.g. noxious industries in residential areas). 

Most of Emmarentia is classified as Residential 1:

Þ     primary rights = dwelling house

Þ  secondary rights = e.g. child-care centre, medical consulting rooms, guest house, home business larger than allowed in primary rights, residential buildings, institutions, etc.

Þ  prohibited uses = any use not included in primary or secondary rights.

* The building coverage on a plot

Coverage is the amount of surface area of your plot that you cover with a building – it’s like a bird’s eye view if you flew over your property.  In Residential 1 areas we are generally allowed to cover 50% of our plot for a one or two storey home. It must be reduced to 40% if the height of the house is 3 storeys.

* Floor Area Ratio (FAR)

This regulates the amount of building area you are allowed on your plot, including multiple storeys. It is a ratio of the proportion of building area in relation to the size of your plot. It works with coverage and height regulations to help determine the kind of development on a plot. It is usually higher than the coverage, so that second storeys can be built. In Residential 1 areas the FAR is usually 1.2. This means you can build a structure that is 1.2 times the size of your plot. Full use of the FAR will lead to a double-storey home, because you can only cover 50% of your plot.

 * Height of buildings

Areas within the City have been divided into Height Zones. Most residential areas within Emmarentia fall within Height Zone A (previously Height Zone 0). This allows you to build a single storey or double storey house and even go up to a third storey if you don’t go beyond the coverage and FAR permitted.

(Note: any building that you plan to add on your property also needs planning approval and heritage approval through ERA)

* Building Lines

In residential areas like Emmarentia, they have reduced building lines down to 3 metres. 

But please note that in Emmarentia, there are conditions in the title deeds of all our properties that also regulate the building line and these take precedence over the Scheme (more legal weight) and permission must be sought from the Lourens Geldenhuys Family, successors in title (and original township owners), to reduce this building line. ERA acts on their behalf. It is these building lines that have created the family suburb of Emmarentia where houses are set back from our tree-lined streets. Most suburban streets in Emmarentia have a building line of 6,10m but it is bigger on Barry Hertzog Ave and some other streets.

I want to practise my profession from home. What regulations apply?

You may exercise your profession without getting consent from the COJ, provided you are the permanent occupant of the house and comply with the restrictions below. If you want to exceed these restrictions, you need to apply for permission from the City and get consent from your neighbours.

·  you may only use 25% of your house area up to a maximum of 50m2,

·  you may not employ more than 2 employees from outside,

·  you must not put strain on the infrastructure,

·  you may not cause an undue increase in traffic and

·  you cannot negatively affect the amenity (such as pollution, smells, unsightly appearance) and store hazardous materials.

·  You may not operate: a public garage, motor sales, motor workshop, heavy mechanical repairs (grinding, welding, sanding for example), car wash, industrial/commercial purposes, noxious industries, scrap yards, spray painting, panel beating, shop (retail outlet), spaza/house shop, tavern/shebeen, restaurant, coffee shop, tea garden, place of amusement, place of instruction, institution, guest house, bed and breakfast, boarding house, commune, hotel, funeral parlour, undertaker, pet salon or any other uses the Council may determine. 

What about if I want to set up a spaza shop, childcare centre,  a space for religious purposes etc.?

Before applying to the COJ for permission, you must notify your immediate neighbours of your intentions, get their permission or advise them how they can object to the Council. See the regulations for full details of how to apply.

I want to add another dwelling unit. What are the regulations?

You can erect and use a maximum of two subsidiary dwelling units (including staff accommodation, granny flat, cottage). The total combined floor areas of these dwelling units shall not exceed 160m2 or 90% of the main dwelling house whichever is the lesser. Any cottage that is double storey requires planning permission.

Note: In the past, we were permitted two subsidiary dwellings of 110m2 each— this has been reduced. Remember title deed conditions require the permission of ERA (Lourens Geldenhuys Family) for the location of outbuildings.

Contact Gemey Abrahams on: 082 459 5266 or info@era.org.za for:

  • ·     Any clarity on this Land Use Scheme
  • ·     any building, plans, heritage or town planning queries, AND
  • ·     the PHRA-G application forms and the PHRA-G Guidance note

Read the full regulations here: