Thursday, October 31, 2013

Nairobi reveals city-within-city housing plan

From left: Kenya Property Developers Association CEO Robyn Emerson, chairperson Hamish Govani and Tom Odongo, Nairobi County Executive for Housing, Lands and Physical Planning, confer at a forum to discuss the housing  master plan October 30, 2013. Photo/DIANA NGILA

From left: Kenya Property Developers Association CEO Robyn Emerson, chairperson Hamish Govani and Tom Odongo, Nairobi County Executive for Housing, Lands and Physical Planning, confer at a forum to discuss the housing master plan October 30, 2013. Photo/DIANA NGILA  Nation Media Group

By CHARLES MWANIKI
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Nairobi’s Eastlands area is set to be re-developed as a mini city-within-a-city as part of a new masterplan aimed at checking urban sprawl by doing away with traditional zoning.

The blueprint, revealed Wednesday by Nairobi County Cabinet member for lands, physical planning and housing Tom Odongo, is planned for implementation at the start of the first quarter of next year through a public-private sector partnership model.

As part of the plan, Eastlands in Nairobi which consists of many council estates will be turned into a mini-city of 650,000 residents with better housing and commercial use of the space.

According to Mr Odongo, the Eastlands re-development will act as a flagship project that will see at least a third of the area put under private sector development.

“We need to think beyond just zoning if the current growth vision is to work. There is a major shift that the plan is bringing, from looking at the city as a purely physical system, to where we are now looking at an integrated physical, social and economic system,” said Mr Odongo at a forum organised by the Kenya Property Developers Association (KPDA) to discuss the masterplan.

The Eastlands re-development plan will serve as a template for similar consolidated urban nodes across the city which will have all-inclusive services as part of a move to decentralise services for residents.

It envisages the re-generation into a compact city 800 hectares of urban space of which 352 hectares will be developed by the private sector.

The public component will comprise social housing projects and infrastructure development. The private sector is expected to provide at least 80,000 commercial housing units, with 20 per cent of its space allocation set aside for light scale industrial and business parks.

KPDA sees the move to integrate the private sector in the implementation of the plan as being positive, but is calling for further reform in the approval and licensing procedures at the county offices.

KPDA chief executive officer Robyn Emerson said consultation between the county government and the property developers should be widened to give the masterplan a chance of success.

She said permit-issuance process should be reformed to check the proliferation of un-approved structures.

“We would like to see the setting up of a permit board that is made up of all stakeholders, one that can do an analysis of the development strategy once or twice a month or quarter, rather than this being left to a single person or staffer,” said Ms Emerson.

Nairobi’s previous masterplan drawn in 1973 expired 13 years ago (1973-2000). The new Sh300 million plan, funded by the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) is expected to be rolled out from April 2014 and will be viable for the next 17 years.

The city’s original plan developed in the 1920s consolidated common land uses and activities, projecting areas with same development potential in social economics and infrastructure.

The plan provided for procedural zoning and development control principles based on aesthetic function, spatial relationships and urban structure devoid of illegal developments.

The 1973-2000 strategy on the other hand detailed the population issues, economic activities, land use, transportation, housing and revenue and expenditure patterns. 

It divided the city into 20 development zones acknowledging the rapid growth of the city. However, the zones have in some places been overwhelmed by un-planned developments and increasing demand for both commercial and residential space.

The previous plan has been faulted in retrospect for its requirement of massive public sector capital investment, without provision for private sector participation in implementation and financing of aspects of the plan.

cmwaniki@ke.nationmedia.com


This article was originally published on 30 October 2013 by Business Daily.

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