The George Municipal Council approved a revised Policy On House Shops And Other Residential-Based Retail Concerns in November 2021. The revised policy establishes sustainable land use management guidelines to allow the operation of house shops or similar micro-enterprises from residential properties, with specific focus given to low-income residential neighbourhoods such as townships, subsidy housing areas, and informal settlement areas – to ensure their short-term economic sustainability while also facilitating the long-term spatial strategy for these neighbourhoods.
The residential business survey conducted by the George Municipality’s Town Planning Department in March 2022 revealed that of the 308 house shops recorded in the George Municipal area, including Blanco. Pacaltsdorp, Thembalethu, Wilderness, Haarlem, and Uniondale, only five (5) are legal in terms of the Town Planning law. This has therefore necessitated a vigorous drive on rectification of illegal house shops in the greater George area.
As part of the rectification process, all owners and/or operators of illegal house shops or 3rd party retail concerns, including those who have previously been served a notice, will now be granted an amnesty period of 3 months to rectify their operation and avoid the payment of any penalties or fines.
“The amnesty will only be granted if the operator can present proof of the shop’s existence prior to the implementation of the new zoning scheme on 1 September 2017 and accepts the General Conditions of Approval for house shops. The granting of amnesty shall not be construed as an indicator of support for their illegal businesses, or that their application will be approved,” said, Clinton Petersen, the Senior Manager in the George Municipality’s Town Planning Department.”
Petersen confirmed that the Municipality has already commenced the process of issuing notices directly to all unauthorised house shops in George. “The notice that we have issued is a ‘First Notice’, which basically informs and warns the property owner and the house shop operator that they have utilised the land outside the zoning scheme prescripts and without the approval of the municipality. The notice furthermore advises that they must rectify the contraventions (the illegal activity and/or building works) within 30 days of the date of notice being served. The notice will also request the owner/operator to contact and visit the Town Planning department to discuss options in rectifying the contravention,” Petersen said.
If the property owner and/or house shop operator does not adhere to the municipality’s ‘first notice’, the municipality will issue a second notice allowing the owner and/or operator a further 14 days to address the contravention. Should the owner and/or operator adhere to the above-mentioned notices, he/she will be assisted by the Planning department and advised on the requirements of submitting the necessary land use applications. They will also be advised that the submission of such an application does not give them the authority to continue operating the illegal shop and further, that submission of the application does not guarantee that their application will be successful.
Petersen says that the owner and/or operator will then be provided one (1) month to submit the required land use application. “Should the second notice not be adhered to, or the land use application is not be submitted, the matter will be handed over to the Department of Legal Services and Compliance for the instituting of further legal action. The Legal Department will issue a final compliance notice allowing the owner and/or operator a final opportunity (14 days) to address the contravention, failing which, said Department will be instructed to either lay a criminal charge with the SAPS or appoint an attorney to institute civil proceedings against the owner and/or operator,” he added.
The municipality may deviate from the above procedures and institute legal action if the activity and/or structure pose an imminent danger to life or property, or if illicit activities are suspected to be taking place on the property and pose a threat to the health and wellbeing of the community concerned.
The owners can contact the official who issued the notice on the phone number, or the email address provided thereon. They can also visit the offices on the 5th floor, municipal building, 71 York Street. For enquiries, the public can contact our office on Tel: 044 801 9477. They also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to register a service request. There will be a town planner on duty each day to assist with these queries.