The NRA is recognised by the City as representative of the community it serves. This gives it the status of a commenting body, in planning and Heritage matters.

These two privileges are slightly different but in practice they mean that the NRA gets advance sight of some planning applications.

Where a planning application conforms to existing planning regulations, the Council can approve them without further consultation. However where an architect / builder / developer asks for something that needs special permission, the nearest neighbours, the Ward Councillor and the NRA are all given an opportunity to comment and lodge objections.

Typical issues that require consultation are sub-divisions, re-zoning, title deed restrictions, demolitions, ‘Departures’ and Heritage issues.

The NRA are not an enforcement body! We have the right to submit comments to planning applications, and our use of professional architects means that these comments are given serious consideration. But they are only inputs to a consultation process and ultimately the Council alone decides whether to accept our recommendations.

Each year the NRA scrutinises upwards of fifty planning applications. This is an enormous amount of pro-bono work for our tiny team of volunteer architects; we are extremely lucky to have them.

Clearing up a little confusion!
Submitting objections to my neighbour’s plans can feel a bit awkward – won’t the NRA to do it for me?

No! This is absolutely not the case. Please read the box below to understand when and why the NRA submits objections. Basically, the NRA is a safety net to prevent technical mistakes from creeping in and to head off inappropriate developments which might set a precedent for a whole area.

If you are not comfortable with a planning application on a neighbouring property, you need to make your own comments. The things that seriously concern you (e.g. noise from a new entertainment area on your boundary) may not be considered part of the NRA’s mandate.

■ Each year there are applications where the NRA objects but no neighbours do. These will typically be architecturally technical in nature.

■ Each year there are applications where several neighbours object but the NRA does not. A classic example would be an applicaiton for a subdivision which the neighbours don’t want but which is explicitly allowed for in the planning policy.

The City of Cape Town has an excellent planning portal. From the site you can access all the regulations, policies, application forms, etc. This is great place to start if you want submit your own plans or comment on someone else’s.

When the NRA WILL object to building plans
If you get a letter offering you a chance to comment on an adjacent building application, you can either return it with ‘No Objection’ or you can submit a comment (i.e. an objection).

Generally speaking, the NRA objects to things which either have a community-wide impact or are simply illegal and the City should not allow them.

For example, if an application in the Village is for a building style which is inconsistent with the historic character of the area, or a developer is trying to over-densify a subdivided plot, or a homeowner is trying to get permission for ‘departures’ which would set a really bad precedent (e.g. building a garage over the street facing boundary line) – then the NRA will make a legally informed comment.

Our intention will be for the Council to note the objection as coming from a respected and qualified commentator, and for them to persuade the architect to redraw the plans. Usually we prevail, sometimes we don’t.

When the NRA WILL NOT object to building plans
Even where part of an application falls outside of the planning regulations, the NRA may sign a ‘No Objection’ letter.

For example, we may not submit objections to site-specific departures which don’t have wider implications. For example, if a homeowner applies to put in a single story pool room at the back of their plot, which is a bit closer closer to the wall than the regulations ordinarily permit, then we leave that for the neighbours to object to. It’s not visible from the street, it doesn’t add new load to the mains infrastructure, etc. So it’s up to the neighbours to object – perhaps they are quite happy with it.

The NRA’s role is not to object on behalf of individual homeowners who are simply disinclined to make their own objections. This responsibility rests with the homeowners who will have been sent the same documents as the NRA.

The NRA’s team are motivated to comment on applications only where there are significant and wider implications to allowing the application to pass unchallenged.

current applications/ developments

Recent residential development applications are briefly listed here. In addition, the Committee continues to monitor the larger potential development projects of Newlands Swimming Pool, the Forresters Arms hotel application, Cannon street brewery and Lemon Lane.

The NRA have had chance to respond to some of the larger applications within the Newlands area. These comments are an amalgamation of contributions from various professionals from a heritage, design and environmental view.

The Newlands Local Area Overlay Zone (LAOZ) is currently under discussion at council level. We will post any new developments when available. Details can be found here:

Draft report for the Newlands Village Local area Overlay Zone (LAOZ) by Stephen Townsend

Should you have any queries or concerns relating to property please contact