A framework for applying spatial decision support systems in land use planning.
For local authorities to manage land policies effectively data bases of land use information that are current and mirror development on the ground are required. At present local authorities have no mechanisms in place to acquire maintain and spatially link land use information. Detailed land use information is not generally available at the local level. Generally little attention is paid to maintaining the expensive data which is assembled when planning schemes, development plans or projects are prepared. Land use planning has traditionally focussed on the control rather than the facilitation of development. Details of the actual land use on the ground are generally ignored as tariffs for tax purposes are set on the zoning of the land or a flat rate rather than the actual land use. This lack of land use information, which is exacerbated by informal settlement, causes delays in approving new land uses. There is generally no data available for informal areas and land use and tenure is subject to the informal rules that have evolved with such settlements. If these areas are to be included in the formal land management systems, ways of including and maintaining land use information about these settlements must be developed. By reviewing land information theory, the South African legal land development framework and using a small town as a case study, I have shown that provided certain conditions are met a Spatial Decision Support System (SDSS), designed to record and maintain the land use data necessary to support land use planning in both formal and informal contexts, could be a valuable land management tool. Such a system should be implemented in partnership with local communities and should; • support local level land use decision making and regulation • serve as a land management tool to integrate formal and informal communities • have mechanisms to keep land use information current • be transparent about the type of land use information • develop linkages with regional government to provide detailed land information over time.