Sec. 7 Comment

The responsibility imposed by section 7 on a local authority is clarified in para 71 of True Motives v Mahdi (543/07) [2009] ZASCA 4 (3 March 2009)


"[71] Since the owners of neighbouring properties are not entitled to a hearing at any stage of the process leading up to the granting of an approval, the protection of their rights depends on the manner in which the decision-maker exercises the power conferred by s 7(1).


As Lewis AJ explained in Odendaal v Eastern Metropolitan Local Council:

'...both the Act and the [town-planning] Scheme are legislative instruments for ensuring the harmonious, safe and efficient development of urban areas .... Local authorities are given considerable powers under both Act and Scheme. Onerous duties are imposed on them by both instruments. The essential purpose of the powers afforded and the duties imposed is to ensure that the objectives of the legislative instruments are achieved: that there is a balance of interests within a geographical community. The local authorities are in effect the guardians of the community interest. They are entrusted with ensuring that areas are developed in as efficient, safe and aesthetically pleasing a way as possible. They are required to safeguard the interests of property owners in the areas of their jurisdiction. That is why the powers and rights of owners of immovable property are restricted. Power over one's property has never, under our legal system, been unfettered. The rights of an owner of land have always been limited by the common law in the interests of neighbours. But the rapid urbanization of countries worldwide and the inevitable need for regulation that has accompanied it has had the effect of restricting full dominium even further than the common law ever did.'".