CoJ launches Web-based construction permit system


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The City of Johannesburg’s (CoJ’s) Department of Development Planning on October 28 launched its Web-based construction permit system that is designed specifically for building permit purposes.

The Construction Permit Management System will be piloted until November 8 and is intended to modernise and streamline the current Site Development and Building Plan permit system, the city said.

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Professionals registered with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (Sacap) will now be able to submit their building plans electronically, which is a significant move away from paper-based applications, manual processing and capturing, the city added.

The current turnaround time for approval or refusal decisions on building plans for a commercial property is at least 30 days, whereas the online permit system will provide a decision within 15 days, provided that all documentation and the application form are completed, the city noted.

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“The implementation of the online application system seeks to enhance the operational efficiency and good governance of development planning and improve on the department’s service delivery mandates, while the system aligns with the CoJ’s Smart City programme,” the city said.

An open-source system that has been used in 14 other international jurisdictions, the Construction Permit Management System, is part of an initiative by national government on the Ease of Doing Business programme, with Johannesburg as the first city to pilot this approach.

The programme is a collaborative effort with the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, InvestSA, the National Treasury and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition. This programme has several milestones, and is aimed at making it easy for residents and businesses to process construction permits, access electricity and register a property, the CoJ said.

The role of the city’s Department of Development Planning in the programme is to ensure construction permit applications are processed more quickly and efficiently.

Applicants will also receive real-time updates at every stage of the application.

Sacap has seen a steady increase over the past year in the number of persons who pass themselves off as registered persons when they are not, revealed Sacap registrar Advocate Toto Fiduli.

“In addition, we have experienced an increase in the number of persons who fraudulently use titles and registration numbers of registered persons to submit applications to local authorities,” he said.

The CoJ online application system will contribute significantly to the professional body’s public protection statutory mandate, particularly against fraudulent and unregistered persons, he added.

The benefits of digitising the building plan application process include that online checklists and other information is available in one place for easy access, and online applications can be done anywhere and at any time.

Further benefits include enhancing customer satisfaction by improving transparency, including system notifications via email, and no need for external consultants, as the city receives the application and processes the site development plans and building plans using an integrated and equitable system distribution workflow.

The new system also enables categorisation of building types and prioritising them, and building inspectors can be issued with tablets to access the system as they conduct inspections on-site and provide real-time updates.

The system will also help to improve final inspections using workflow and faster issuance of certificates of occupancy, and improve reporting and measurement, the CoJ said.

“The Construction Permit Management System holds both the city and architectural professionals accountable throughout the online application process,” said CoJ Development Planning MMC Thapelo Amad.

“CoJ professionals will be held accountable through the efficient and seamless processing of building plan applications, with equal distribution among regional staff to eliminate preferential treatment and undue influence, while architectural professionals will be held accountable for the submission of quality building plans by professionals, whose credentials are validated against Sacap. 


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