The City of Cape Town’s new integrated zoning scheme came into effect on 1 March 2013. From this date, a single and common zoning scheme for the entire metropolitan area will replace the 27 zoning schemes applicable in various parts of the metropole up until this date.
In our experience, there has always been an element of uncertainty when it came to land use rights and it is the goal of this article to provide some clarity to guesthouse and bed and breakfast (B&B) owners with regards to the rules set out by the new zoning scheme. For the purpose of this article we will only focus on guesthouses and B&B’s.
In our day-to-day conversations, the words “guesthouse” and “B&B” are often used interchangeable. There is however, a significant difference between the two and knowing and understanding this difference is a key to understanding the rest of the zoning scheme and its applicability to your establishment.
Bed and Breakfast
According to the zoning scheme, B&B “means a dwelling house or second dwelling in which the owner of the dwelling supplies lodging and meals for compensation to transient guests who have permanent residence elsewhere; provided that:
- the dominant use of the dwelling house concerned remain for the living accommodation of a single family; and
- the property complies with the requirements contained in this zoning scheme for a bed and breakfast establishment.”
Therefore, the dominant use of a B&B property shall remain for the accommodation of a single family and the zoning scheme adds that no more than 3 rooms and no more than 6 paying guests shall be allowed per land unit. In additional to this, no more than 3 employees shall be engaged by the owner as part of the establishment. The purpose of this is to ensure that the residential character of the neighbourhood is not compromised.
A guesthouse in turn “means a dwelling house or second dwelling which is used for the purpose of supplying lodging and meals to transient guests for compensation, in an establishment which exceeds the restrictions of a bed and breakfast establishment, and may include business meetings or training sessions by and for guests on the property.”
The goal of any guesthouse should be to provide small to medium scale guest accommodation in a conventional residential neighbourhood setting and to generate income opportunities from a residential dwelling building. This therefore exceeds the restrictions of a B&B establishment because more than 3 rooms can be operated per land unit. The maximum size of 30 persons or 15 rooms is permitted in a guesthouse establishment. More than 15 rooms would constitute a hotel or boutique hotel.
Primary use, additional use and consent use rights
All properties that were zoned in terms of the former zoning scheme are deemed to be zoned in terms of the new zoning scheme, which means that each guesthouse and B&B owner needs to re-establish their zoning in terms of the new scheme and assess the implication for their establishment on this merit.
The good news is that the new scheme is more lenient when it comes to parking requirements as it has taken into account the availability of public transport in the various zones and have integrated this into the parking requirements that should be available for guests.
The categories of uses we would like to highlight are the primary use right, the additional use right and the consent use right. The
You may still have to acquire other licenses like a business license or a liquor license, but your zoning will be deemed correct and you will not have to get specific permission from Council to run a guesthouse on the land.use of your property for any purpose specified as a primary use in the zone of the property is permitted without the approval of Council. For instance, if your property is zoned Local Business Zone: Intermediate Business LB1 you may operate a guesthouse without the approval of Council.
If “B&B “and/or “guesthouse” are mentioned under additional use rights in your specific zone, an activity or use described in this zone is permitted without the approval of Council, provided that any condition or further provisions specified for such activity or use are adhered to.
For instance, the B&B or guesthouse must comply with building regulations, height restrictions, parking requirements or any other requirement set out by the zoning scheme for a B&B or a guesthouse.
Lastly, should your establishment be listed under consent use in your zone, your business is only permitted if Council grants its approval for such consent use. In Single Residential Zone 2 (SR2) for instance, you may only operate a guesthouse if you have approval from Council. You are however allowed to run a B&B under an additional use right.
The only way to truly make sense of it all is to assess your own situation. You can download a table of New Zones, which will give you a simplistic overview of the zones applicable to guesthouses and B&B’s and what is allowed under primary, additional-, and consent use rights.
The maps for the zoning scheme are still being finalized but you are welcome to search for your property online here
The minimum off-street parking requirements integrated into the scheme is summarized in Chapter 19. It sets out the following parking requirements for guesthouses and B&B’s.
The column headed ‘PT1 areas’ refers to areas where the use of public transport is promoted, but where Council considers the provision of public transport inadequate or where the use of motor vehicles is limited. The PT1 zone shall comprise areas within:
- the 400m (five-minute) walkable catchment of any bus stop not qualifying under the PT2 zone, but offering access to a moderate-frequency service; and
- an intermediate development environment
The column headed ‘PT2 areas’ refers to areas where the use of public transport is promoted and Council considers the provision of public transport good, or where the use of motor vehicles is very limited. The PT2 zone shall comprise areas:
- defined by the 800m (ten-minute) walkable catchment around a Metrorail station, an IRT bus station, or other major public transport transfer station offering access to a high-frequency service; and
- within an urban development environment.
The above only touched the surface of the zoning scheme and all its requirements and the purpose was merely to create awareness and to serve as a “call to action” for guesthouse and B&B owners. It is each owner’s responsibility to make sure they comply with the new regulations. You are however more than welcome to call on us in this regard. We will be more than happy to assist wherever we can.