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Have your say on new draft Tall Buildings Policy

The City of Cape Town is calling on the public to comment on its draft Tall Buildings Policy, which will provide guidance during the early phases of the design and planning process for tall buildings in Cape Town.

The draft policy is available for review from 1 March 2012 at the City’s 24 Subcouncil offices; municipal libraries; and Planning District Offices; as well as here.

Interested groups and members of the public can submit their comments in writing between 1 and 31 March 2012 via: 

  • Post to P.O. Box 4511, Cape Town 8000 (Attention: Liezel Kruger-Fountain) 
  • Fax to 021 421 6209 (Attention: Liezel Kruger-Fountain) 
  • E-mail to  

“The Tall Buildings Policy seeks to promote responsible and sustainable growth, make positive contributions to place-making and enhance the overall cityscape by ensuring the development of well-integrated tall buildings in appropriate locations,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic, Environmental and Spatial Planning, Alderman Belinda Walker.

Tall buildings can be defined as buildings that: 

  • Would be significantly higher than their neighbours 
  • Would need a height departure under the zoning regulations 
  • Will have a significant impact on the skyline 
  • Are two times higher than their width 
  • Require special technologies for access e.g. elevators

The draft policy is the product of a city-wide approach that will guide the development of well-designed and integrated tall buildings in certain suitable locations which are being identified through the City’s planning processes. It sets out in simple language the necessary information or submission material needed to effectively evaluate proposals.

On a more technical level, it also provides a draft of the best-practice Design Guidelines for Tall Buildings that will provide developers and assessors with more detailed guidance during the design and application processes.

“The City acknowledges that taller buildings are a part of Cape Town’s future growth, and that careful consideration is required in terms of their design and suitability within Cape Town’s context. If developed with sensitivity to the environment and with awareness of the urban context, tall buildings can enhance their environment and serve as beacons of urban improvement. If correctly placed and well-designed, these buildings can enhance the public perception of an area and attract further investment,” said Alderman Walker.

A workshop will be held for interested groups and professional bodies such as the Urban Design Institute of South Africa, the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats, the Cape Institute for Architecture, the South African Planning Institute, the Institute of Landscape Architects of South Africa, the South African Institute of Civil Engineers and relevant academic institutions. These workshops will allow the City to obtain specialist support for and input into the policy and its utilisation.

In October 2008, the City approved the process of compiling a Tall Buildings Policy. The motivation for the policy was the increased interest in and a trend towards the construction of tall buildings in certain areas of the city. At the core of this trend is the desire by developers to maximise their return on investment in light of increasing land costs. Market pressures have increased the need for an effective mechanism to deal with applications for significantly tall buildings. Guidance is required as a matter of urgency by developers and assessors in terms of appropriate tall building design and locations. This will bring consistency and efficiency to the process.

It is expected that the final draft Tall Buildings Policy will be submitted for policy approval to the Executive Mayor in June 2012.

Published by Martin Pollack.
© City of Cape Town, 2016