Storm over Sakaja’s new zoning regulations

A storm has risen over a proposal by the Nairobi City County government to revise the zoning regulations allowing developers to set up high-rise apartments in different parts in Nairobi.

City Hall has proposed a new development policy framework that if passed will increase the number of skyline limits in some areas such as Kilimani, Kileleshwa and Muthangari up to 15 floors from the current limit of four floors and areas in the Central Business District up to 75 floors.

Other areas under the zone four area including Ngong Road area will have a maximum of 25 floors while Lower Spring Valley which includes Mathare River, Westlands Redhill Link Road, Waiyaki Way and Ring Road Parklands will be limited to four floors.

The proposal by the county executive led by Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja is currently before Nairobi City County Assembly’s Planning Committee Chaired by Kitisuru MCA Alvin Palapala.

This is yet another attempt by the county government to review the zoning regulations which have never been reviewed since 2004. A similar effort by the defunct Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS) failed to materialize after their term lapsed before the policy was passed by the county assembly.

Mr Palapala told Nation.Africa that the county assembly will support the new proposal on condition that the county government puts up proper infrastructure to meet the needs of residents.

“We are not against it given that there is a big mess in regard to planning in this county. As a committee we met with the executive discussed and our stance is very clear that there must be water, expansion of roads and building of proper sewer lines to support the expansion,” he said.

The ward representative also said the process requires a team of experts who will review the proposed framework and come up with a robust one taking into consideration the needs of residents.

“We have proposed a team of experts from the county assembly and the county government who will sit down evaluate the framework and take into considerations their advice before the proposed framework is passed,” he added.

On Wednesday, over 20 resident associations and the Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) faulted the policy insisting that the county administration should address other issues of priority.

“The recent flooding, gas explosions in residential areas, sewer bursts, worsening traffic congestion, limited to no water provision, constant electricity outages and rampant insecurity in Nairobi are clear indicators of the dire consequences of unplanned and haphazard development. Proper planning is the only solution to managing the chaos we are currently witnessing in Nairobi,” said Ms Florence Nyole- AAK President.

According to town planner and urban specialist Mr Patrick Adolwa, Mr Sakaja’s remarks that increasing houses in Nairobi in anticipation of high population in the city by 2050 is ill-advice.

“In London, the City Planner is second to the Mayor. In New York, the City Planner speaks and everybody trembles. In Nairobi, the City Planner is anonymous, and that tells you whey we are in trouble because what he says doesn’t matter,” Mr Adolwa said, “city planning has been reduced to heights, you cannot reduce this complexity into a story about heights.”

The associations also argue that the proposal is not in line with the law.

“Development control should be guided by physical land use plans and since the (NIUPLAN) is yet to be implemented, and neighborhood Local Physical Development Plans (LPDPs) are nonexistent, the County should prioritize the formulation and implementation of these plans. Only then should the formulation of a development control framework in harmony with national and regional development plans be considered,” Ms Myole added.

The proposal states that in Westlands Central Business District (CBD) and Westlands Museum Hill and the surrounding areas have been classified under zone three with a limit of 30 floors.

In the new policy, areas in the Central Business District including Uhuru Highway, Tom Mboya Street, Haile Selassie and University Way will be classified as zone one with a floor limit of 75 floors while areas surrounding the newly-launched Railways City will have a limit of 50 floors.

Valley Road, Uhuru Highway, Dennis Pritt Road, Ralph Bunche Road and State House Road will also be limited to seventy five floors. Others with a similar limit include Argwings Kodhek Road, Ralph Bunche Road, Ngong Road, Hospital Road, Upperhill Link Road and Mbagathi Way.

Areas in Riverside, Parklands and City Park are classified under zone 3c with a limit of 20 floors. Pumwani, Ziwani and Eastleigh are classified under zone 2 with a limit of 25 floors.

The Sakaja-led administration has classified areas in zone six, zone 12 and zone 13 as single dwelling places meaning there will be no any high-rise developments. The areas include Karen Triangle, Kuwinda, Karen C, Karen Hardy, Langáta Road Corridor including Bomas of Kenya roundabout as well as the Lang’ata and Ngong Road roundabout.

Other areas under this category include Gigiri, Kitisuru, Runda Park, Runda Estate, Githogoro Village, Runda Evergreen, Whispers Estate, Huruma Village, Nyari, Rosslyn, Thindigua, Ridgeways, Mitini, Hibiscus Court and Mitini. Areas in zone 6 are those located in Muthaiga, Spring Valley and those surrounding Karura Forest.

Nairobi River, Mathare River, Juja Road and Outer Ring Road has been classified as zone 7 with a limit of five floors. It also includes areas such as Korogocho, Dandora and Kariobangi.

Areas in Kahawa West, Zimmerman, Githurai 44, Kahawa Soweto and the nearby areas are classified as zone 17 areas with a limit of 12 floors. Kasarani, Roysambu, Clay City, Mihango, Komarock and Chokaa are classified as zone 18 with a limit of 16 floors.

Mr Sakaja on Sunday said the county will increase the floors in the different areas due to necessity and the need to meet the rising population in Nairobi.

“I have had people complaining especially in areas such as Kileleshwa and Lavington that our houses were one-storey houses and some other people have come and built apartments close to where we stay. Nairobi is 696 square kilometers. In 2050, we will be having a population of 10.5 million people. Can we expand Nairobi, the only place we have to go is up. The only thing we need to do is build sewer and drainages so that we can have the capacity,” he said.

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