Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) as a mechanism for environmental conservation : feasibility study to determine the suitability or otherwise of the Midmar area of controlled subdivision as a pilot area for the application of a TDR programme in KwaZulu-Natal.
The application of a transfer of development rights (TDR) programme is a concept which has been used, both formally and informally, by regulators of development, as a mechanism to protect areas of historical, cultural, ecological, agricultural and environmental importance. The application of a TDR programme requires definition of a TDR boundary and the identification of sites within such area which are capable of sustaining development (receiving sites) and sites that are not suited to development (sending sites). A TDR programme serves to protect the natural environment; preserve historical and cultural diversity; and, strives to achieve an equitable spread bf development opportunities amongst property owners in a given area. There are those involved with current development planning policy within KwaZulu-Natal who propose that the planning legislation should formally incorporate TDR regulations into the KwaZulu-Natal Planning and Development Act (Act 5 of 1988). TDR programmes in KwaZulu-Natal have been applied in a limited sense and in an informal manner. To date, no area in KwaZulu-Natal has been formally designated as a TDR area and the formal implementation and the feasibility of instituting a TDR programme has not been tested. It is suggested that within an area where environmental, agricultural, historical or cultural significance has been identified an opportunity for the application of a TDR programme exists. The planning and implementation of a TDR programme within a designated area provides an opportunity for integrated and sustainable development to occur. Within a defined TDR area the parameters for development capacities are agreed to upfront through negotiation between property owners, approving authorities and interested and affected parties. Consequently the possibilities of over or inappropriate development levels within the defined special area are significantly reduced. It must be noted that TDR programmes are area specific and therefore should only be applicable in areas which are of significant agricultural, environmental, historical, cultural and ecological value. This thesis identifies a possible areawhere a TOR programme could be applied. It was thought appropriate that the pilot area should be one which is environmentally sensitive and where only limited development has been permitted. The Midmar Area of Controlled Subdivision, situated north of Pietermaritzburg in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands provides an ideal opportunity where a TDR model could be examined and developed. In essence, this thesis defines TDR programmes and includes a brief investigation into international application of TDR programmes. In particular, it examines the application of a TDR programme at Lake Tahoe in the United States to illustrate the possible levels of sophistication that such a programme may achieve. It outlines the legislative framework in terms of which a TDR programme may be implemented for the study area. An overview of the current situation of the Midmar Area of Controlled Subdivision is presented which includes a summary of the attributes of the area; the current development pressures it faces; and, planning initiatives impacting on the Midmar Dam and its surrounds, all of which inform the study. The thesis also examines how and whether the implementation of a TOR programme could be successfully achieved. The study concludes that the Midmar Area of Controlled Subdivison would form an ideal foil on which to test the application of TOR programmes in KwaZulu-Natal. A set of recommendations which would form the basis for the implementation of a TOR programme in the Midmar Area of Controlled Subdivision is provided. The thesis does not attempt to identify each individual parcel of land which should be ascribed receiving or sending site status as this would require further in-depth study by various specialists.