County headquarters will be upgraded to municipal status, according to a revised national urban development policy released this month.
Developed by the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development, it seeks to create an additional municipality in every county, under guidelines for the classification of urban land uses and design.
Urban areas and cities were previously identified and classified without clear criteria, leading to skewed distribution of urban areas and cities and inequality in development.
The document seeks to create metropolitan areas for effective cooperation and management, and develop a spatial framework for metropolitan planning.
Currently, the possible creation of metropolitan areas is not based on legislation.
It proposes mapping of informal settlements, harmonisation of policies, legislation and administrative frameworks for urban informal housing and establishment of inspectorate mechanisms in urban authorities to enforce informal housing laws.
It also proposes severe penalties for invasion of public land.
The policy also seeks to promote compact residential neighbourhoods for optimal use of land and infrastructure and development of various types of housing including family and single person dwellings to address house shortage in urban areas.
Multistorey apartment blocks exceeding four storeys will also be required to provide lifts, fire escape stairs, fire-fighting equipment and adequate parking space.
Land Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi acknowledged that the country is experiencing unprecedented urbanisation.
“It is having a profound impact on the way people live, work, socialise and do business. Rapid urban development is expected to increase the urbanisation level from the current 40 per cent to at least 50 per cent by 2030,” said Prof Kaimenyi.
He said urbanisation offers a chance to bring about a concentration and socio-economic benefits that can spur economic development and eradicate poverty.
However, if it is not managed well, urbanisation may pose governance, infrastructure, housing, environmental and resource challenges that can hamper development.
The policy aims to strengthen urban governance and management, development planning, urban investment and the delivery of social and physical infrastructure in urban areas throughout the country.