How do I re-zone a property for commercial use?

How do I re-zone a property for commercial use?


Direct stakeholders provide inputs through the public participation process that legislation provides – i.e. objections, etc”. Deed restrictions “run with the land,” that is, they restrict any future owner and cannot be removed without obtaining a release from every possible party who could benefit from keeping the restriction.

The local authority (municipality) is empowered to amend, suspend or remove restrictions or obligations in respect of land within their jurisdiction They are also authorised to make provision for the regulation of fees charged by township owners in respect of consents required by applicants; to repeal Removal of Restrictions Act, 1967 (Act No. 84 of 1967).


When applying for re-zoning budget for the cost of preparing the application (advertising, plans documents, professional fees etc) and the application fee which is payable to the Council.

Approximate costs in the Johannesburg municipal area are (as at 2009):

  • Consent: R500
  • Re-zoning: R3 310
  • Development Plan: R500
  • Removal of Restrictions: R600
  • Simultaneous Re-zoning and Removal of Restrictive Conditions: R2 000

How long does re-zoning take?

A lot depends on the local council and on the type of application but it can take up to 12 months. Contact the town planning division of your local municipality for more information.

How to find commercially zoned property

With the exception of professionals such as doctors or lawyers, it is unlikely that a business will be successful in applying for business rights in an established residential area. This is due to resistance from neighbours whose objections are taken seriously by the local council.

The best way to find a house that is commercially zoned is through a good property agent who will be able to assist with identifying residential buildings that are either re-zoned or have the potential to be.

There are many kinds of applications, of which most are technically and legally complex. It is therefore advisable to consult a professional town planning consultant or a land surveyor or a lawyer to guide you.

Some development proposals don’t require a rezoning or removal of restrictive conditions, but need the Council’s permission. These are known as Consent Applications and are usually less complex, but need to be legally and technically correct.

Zoning regulations

Property zoning is set out in the applicable Town Planning Scheme which spells out the rules for possible land use, i.e. general business, shopping centres and office use. Development is also controlled by conditions of title.

These conditions are set out in the Title Deeds of each property, and can restrict the way in which a property is developed. Other legislation that regulates development includes the National Building Regulations, the Building Standards Act (Act 103 of 1977), the Public Health Bylaws and other Municipal Bylaws.

Understanding how businesses are zoned

There are four sub-divisions.

  1. Business 1: This is for general business in the form of shopping centres or malls and the developer or owner would be allowed to have almost any type of shop on the premises.
  2. Business 2: This is also for a shopping centre, but with certain restricted businesses. For example, a restriction may be placed on opening a bottle store.
  3. Business 3: A strict zoning which will not allow a wider variety of businesses to open and operate in a centre.
  4. Business 4: This zoning excludes shopping centres or malls. It provides for office use (with or without residential use).

If you are running a business from home you may have to apply for re-zoning, due to the business growing to the extent that traffic and activities reach a level which could inconvenience neighbours.

One would then apply for rezoning from a Residential 1 to a Business 4 category. This usually does not apply in the case of a small home run business with two or three staff, one or two cars, and occasional business visitors

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