Glossary, acronyms, abbreviations


Building line

An imaginary line that defines an area within and parallel to the boundary of a plot within which no permanent structures may be built. The purpose of the building line is to prevent buildings from being erected too close to neighbouring properties or to the street. Building lines are defined in the local land use scheme and are not the same for all plots.

Consent use

Consent use means that a municipality allows additional land use rights on a particular property upon request. The zoning of the property will not be changed. The zoning category, as described in the land use scheme, usually makes provision for a pre-described number of uses that may be allowed for with the necessary consent.


The footprint area of a building expressed as a percentage of the total plot area, as seen from directly above the property. The coverage is not affected by the number of storeys of the building. For example, a building with an area of 400 m², which is located on a plot of 1 000 m², will have a coverage of 40%.52

Desire line

An imaginary line that links facilities or places, and that would form a convenient and direct route for pedestrians and cyclists. Desire lines become evident when watching people move through an area. These lines are often visible as informal footpaths across an open space.


Grain or urban grain refers to the pattern and intensity of buildings and their plots, as well as how they combine to form blocks within a settlement. Grain may be ‘fine’, comprising small blocks and frequent street junctions, or it may be ‘coarse’, comprising large blocks and infrequent street junctions.

Land use scheme

A land use scheme forms part of a land use management system that regulates and manages land use within a municipality. The scheme confers legal rights to properties to develop and to erect and use buildings subject to certain stipulated conditions. A detail description of the content of a land use scheme is provided in Chapter 5 of SPLUMA.


A measured piece of land, also known as an erf, stand or site that is registered at the deeds registration office or forms part of a municipal land use scheme.


A colloquial description of the process of making an amendment to a land use scheme (or any of its provisions), to change the land use rights and development restrictions applicable to a specific property.53

Road reserve

A road reserve is a legally described area within which facilities such as roads, footpaths and associated features


may be constructed for public movement. It is the total area between boundaries shown on a cadastral plan. It may also include an area alongside the road that may in future be used for expansion of the road width.

Sense of place

The sense of place of a neighbourhood can be described as the attitudes and feelings that individuals and groups hold towards the neighbourhood. A sense of place is therefore subjective, but useful generalisations can be made e.g. that some spaces, at least for most people who encounter them, provide an experience that is unique and place-specific rather than generic. Places that have unique characteristics and histories are often considered to have a heightened sense of place. Layers of history, unique architecture or layouts, and place-specific signs and symbols help differentiate one place from another. But sense of place is not just about the physical environment, it also entails our perceptions of the positive social interactions that we partake in and those that we observe within a neighbourhood.54


A servitude is a registered right that a person or an entity has over the immovable property of another person. It usually means that a portion of land is set aside for a specific purpose, such as road widening, or provision for engineering infrastructure (e.g. water pipelines, electricity cables, sewerage pipes). The municipality might for example have the right to construct electricity cables over a privately owned property. The property owner is then restricted in what he or she can do within the servitude. The servitude is attached to the property and will continue to exist even if ownership of the land changes. The servitude forms part of the conditions contained in the title deed and can only be cancelled by agreement between both parties.

Site development plan

A plan that provides an overview of the intended development on a property, specifically indicating features such as the position of the proposed buildings, access provisions, parking, landscaping, adherence to the building lines and the position of servitudes.

Spatial Development Framework

SPLUMA requires all three spheres of government to produce Spatial Development Frameworks (SDFs). The focus of the three types of SDF differ. The national SDF provides broad strategic direction, provincial SDFs focus on the coordination of spatial development, and a municipal SDF contains detailed plans for the particular area of jurisdiction. Within the municipal sphere, the SDF forms a core component of the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) and guides the overall spatial distribution of current and desirable land uses within a municipality to give effect to the vision, goals and objectives of the municipal IDP. A detailed description of the content of SDFs is provided in Chapter 4 of SPLUMA.


Sprawl is sometimes described as an urban form that is the opposite of the desirable compact city. Sprawling areas are generally known for low densities, decentralised nodes and uniform land uses. However, what is considered to be sprawl can be found along a continuum of more compact to completely dispersed development. A variety of urban forms have been described as ‘urban sprawl’, including contiguous suburban growth, linear strip developments, leapfrog and scattered developments and extended residential development in tribal authority areas.55

Street block

A street block is the smallest part of a settlement enclosed by streets. It is usually rectangular in shape and usually contains several buildings.


Subdivision of land

Land subdivision is the act of dividing a parcel of land into two or more pieces for the purpose, whether immediate or in the future, of selling the land or using it for building development.


A superblock is a street block that is much larger than a traditional street block. It is often used in layouts to reduce the impact of cars on a neighbourhood by barring access to motorised traffic while still allowing pedestrian routes through the block.

Title deed

A title deed is a government-issued document that stipulates who the owner of the property is, the property’s land use zoning and associated rights, as well as any restrictions such as servitudes, amended building lines, and area-specific conditions.

Township establishment

Township establishment is a legal process whereby agricultural land is converted into proclaimed individual plots (with certain land use rights attached to them) which can be transferred to different owners. The process is regulated by SPLUMA.


The verge is the area between the roadway edge and the road reserve boundary.


A property’s zoning stipulates the purpose for which the land may be used and is described in the municipality’s land use scheme. The zoning also stipulates restrictions on the building erected on the property in terms of floor area ratio, coverage, density, parking requirements, etc. In order to change the purpose for which the property can be used, an application for rezoning has to be submitted to the local municipality for consideration.

Acronyms and abbreviations

BEPP Built Environment Performance Plan
CBA Critical Biodiversity Area
CBD Central Business District
DAG Development Action Group
EIA Environmental Impact Assessment
ESA Ecological Support Area
FAR Floor Area Ratio
IDP Integrated Development Plan
IUDF Integrated Urban Development Framework
NEMA National Environmental Management Act
NMT Non-Motorised Transport
PGDS Provincial Growth and Development Strategy
SAHRA South African Heritage Resources Agency


SANBI South African National Biodiversity Institute
SDF Spatial Development Framework
SDG Sustainable Development Goal
SPLUMA Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act
TOD Transport-Oriented Development
WSD Water Sensitive Design
WSUD Water Sensitive Urban Design



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