Town Planners

Pretoria used to be a model for town-planning students – a square block layout with one way streets facilitating easy access and exit. This was in the days when the city housed all the shops and offices and the suburbs were purely residential zones. There was a joke circulating, at the time, that there was a reason for this – so that civil servants could sneak home early, without being seen by the career professionals coming to work late. Perhaps it was the other way round.

Nowadays, the professionals who are responsible for designing new suburbs, townships, rezoning of areas, and the like are called ‘planners’. Their governing statute is the Planning Profession Act 2002,1 which falls under the authority of the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform. It is implemented, in day-to-day matters concerning planners, by the South African Council for Planners.2 The Council has a wide ranging set of functions, tasks and powers.

A. Registration

  1. No one may practise as a candidate planner, a technical planner or professional planner unless he is registered in that category with the Council.3 It is an offence to contravene this directive.4

  2. It is also an offence to perform any work (whether for reward or otherwise) which is reserved for any of those categories of planning professions, unless he is registered in that category.5

  3. Any person whose registration has been cancelled must return his registration certificate to the Registrar (within 30 days of being directed to do so).6 If you fail to comply with this provision, you commit a criminal offence.7 8

  4. If you are not registered in terms of the Act, you commit an offence9 if you:
    • pretend to be, or in any manner hold yourself to be registered;10 or
    • use the name of any registered person or any name or title (i.e. those referred to above)11.
  5. You may not describe yourself in terms of any category of planner, unless you are registered in that category.12

B. Disciplinary hearings

The Council can determine charges of improper conduct against any registered person. It appoints a tribunal which has a wide variety of powers for this purpose.

  1. It is prohibited for any person who has been subpoenaed:
    • without sufficient cause, to fail to attend the hearing at the time and place specified in the subpoena;13
    • to refuse to be sworn in (or to be affirmed) as a witness;14
    • to fail to answer, fully and satisfactorily, all questions lawfully put to him;15
    • to fail to produce any book, document or object in his possession, custody or under his control which he has been required to produce;1617
    • to give a false statement on any matter;
    • to prevent another person from complying with a subpoena, or from giving evidence, or from producing a book, document or object which he is required to produce.18
  1. This Act replaces the Town and Regional Planners Act 1984. As amended; the latest amendment was effected by Act 4 of 2011. 

  2. The Head Office of the Council is at 1st Floor, Block G, Business International Gateway, New Road, Midrand (tel: 011 318 0460). 

  3. Section 13(2). 

  4. Section 35(1). 

  5. Section 35(1) read with section 16(3)(a). 

  6. Section 15(1). 

  7. Section 35(1). 

  8. The same applies to a voluntary association whose recognition by the Council has lapsed. Section 35(1) read with section 17(6). 

  9. Section 35(1). 

  10. Section 16(3)(b). 

  11. Section 16(3)(c). 

  12. Section 35(1) read with section 13(5). 

  13. Section 22(5)(a)(i). 

  14. Section 22(5)(a)(ii). 

  15. Section 22(5)(a)(iii). 

  16. Section 22(5)(a)(iv). 

  17. By some (mis)stroke of the legislative pen, these are not declared criminal offences (by Section 35(1) of the Act) although it is ‘forbidden’ to do this. 

  18. Section 22(5)(f).