Law N° 2004/003 of 21 April. 2004 governing town planning in Cameroon

The National Assembly has deliberated and adopted, the President of the Republic

Promulgates the following law:


Chapter I - General land use provisions

Section I - General provisions

Article 1: This Act governs town planning, urban development and construction throughout Cameroon.
To this end, it lays down the general rules for land use, defines town planning forecasts, rules and acts, organises land development operations and relations between the various urban players.

Article 2: The territory of Cameroon is the common heritage of the Nation. The State and the decentralised local authorities shall manage and safeguard it within the framework of their respective competencies. Decentralised local authorities shall harmonise their forecasts and decisions on the use of space, while respecting each other's autonomy.

Article 3: For the purposes of this law, town planning is the set of legislative, regulatory, administrative, technical, economic, social and cultural measures aimed at the harmonious and coherent development of human settlements, by promoting the rational use of land, its enhancement and the improvement of the living environment, as well as economic and social development.

Article 4:
(1) The human settlements concerned by this text include urban centres or concentrated rural communities of at least two thousand (2,000) inhabitants, occupying a built-up area in a continuous and obvious manner.
(2) The classification of a human settlement as an urban centre is decided by decree.

Article 5 : The delimitation of the urban perimeter, as well as any subsequent modifications to it, are determined by an order of the Minister in charge of domains, at the initiative of the State or the municipality concerned, following the opinion of the Ministers in charge of town planning or urban issues, as the case may be.

Article 6 : In the areas in question, the scope of the general land use rules extends to the location, access, layout and architecture of buildings, fencing methods and the proper upkeep of land and buildings.

Article 7:
(1) Town planning in Cameroon is governed by general town planning rules and implemented by urban planning documents, development operations and town planning acts.
(2) The forms and conditions for drawing up these documents and acts, as well as the forms and conditions for carrying out the operations in question, shall be specified by regulation.

Article 8: Communes without a valid urban planning document, or with areas of their urban centre not covered by a plan in force, will apply the provisions set out in the general urban planning and construction rules defined in section II below.

Section I - General town planning and construction rules

Article 9:
(1) Land exposed to natural hazards (flooding, erosion, landslides, earthquakes, etc.), parts of the public domain classified as such and ecologically protected areas as defined by legislation relating to environmental management may not be built on, unless special provisions are made.

(2) Land exposed to industrial risk or serious nuisance (industrial pollution, noise, etc.) and land likely to harm public health or local cultural values is unsuitable for housing.

(3) The areas in which such land is located are specified in urban planning documents or, failing that, by municipal decree.

(4). The protection measures and safety perimeters to be taken into account when drawing up urban planning documents are specified by the competent authorities, in particular those responsible for mines, defence, the environment, tourism and property.

Article 10: Town planning studies must include the environmental impact studies required by environmental management legislation.

Article 11:
(1) Unless specifically stipulated in urban planning documents or by the Mayor of the municipality concerned, particularly with regard to urban restructuring, land may only be built on if it is served by public or private roads with a minimum width of seven (7) metres.
(2) In any event, all building plots must allow access for emergency and road services (fire brigade, sanitation, refuse collection, etc.).

Article 12: Owners whose land is 'landlocked' or has no rainwater drainage system are entitled to demand and obtain access to neighbouring land, particularly downstream, under the conditions set out in articles 682 to 710 of the French Civil Code.

Article 13: The footprint of a building is the free projection of any covered construction, even if only partially covered. This is determined by the footprint coefficient, which is the ratio of the surface area of the vertical projection of the building to the surface area of the plot. This coefficient may not exceed 0.6, unless an exemption is expressly provided for in urban planning documents as defined in Article 26 below.

Article 14: The floor area ratio is the ratio between the total built floor area and the surface area of the plot. It is set out in urban planning documents.

Article 15:
(1) No building may be carried out on the remaining part of a plot of land for which all the building rights have already been used, taking into account, in particular, the land use coefficient in force.

(2) Any deed sanctioning a transaction must reproduce the information set out in the town planning certificate defined in article 101 of this law.

Article 16 : Unless otherwise stipulated in urban planning documents, the main street-facing facade of any new building must be set at a distance of at least five (5) metres from the parcel boundaries.

Article 17 : Any owner of an existing building that does not comply with the provisions of this law is required to bring it into line with the provisions of this law in the event of modifications being made to it.

Article 18 : Mayors shall ensure the dissemination and application of the provisions of the general town planning and building regulations, using all necessary means and involving, in particular, local town planning departments or those responsible for urban issues, as appropriate, as well as neighbourhood associations.

Article 19 : No temporary or permanent construction, no external modification of an existing building, no installation, whether permanent or temporary, involving the occupation of a right of way of any size whatsoever on a parcel of land within the urban perimeter of a municipality, may be erected without prior authorisation from the relevant Town Hall, subject to the penalties set out in Title IV of this law.

Article 20 : Any building must enable its occupants to evacuate the premises quickly or to receive external assistance easily.

Article 21 : Building regulations relating to safety, hygiene and sanitation are specified by decree, in particular as regards:
  • - residential buildings:
  • - high-rise buildings
  • - buildings open to the public
  • - industrial buildings;
  • - buildings located in high-risk areas.

Article 22: The height, materials used and architectural form of buildings and fences located on the main facade are specified by urban planning documents or, failing this, by a municipal by-law.

Article 23: These rules apply to all persons who develop or have developed, build or have built, or install equipment of any kind, in particular town planners, architects, civil engineers, technicians, contractors and other persons responsible for building work.

Article 24: Derogations from the rules laid down in this chapter, particularly with regard to the change of use of areas, the constructability or servicing of land, height, appearance or building standards, may be granted by the Minister responsible for town planning and architecture, on the basis of a reasoned opinion from the Mayor.
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