HomePropertyTown planners blast legislation

Town planners blast legislation

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Zimbabwe’s town planners last week agreed to lobby for a review of town-planning laws and regulations, saying the current legal regime stifle growth in urban housing, where the backlog is currently estimated at over 500 000.
The Zimbabwe Institute of Regional and Urban Planners (Zirup) said this during its week-long annual conference held in Kariba last week. Conference facilitator, Percy Toriro, said this year’s event ran under the theme ‘Planning legislation procedures and best practices’ after noting the major bottlenecks national housing provision were related to legal requirements.
The institute admitted that the legal requirements that one would have to meet to have access to a house were overly stringent, and for the most part, delayed plan-approvals, which in turn held back the rate of growth in housing stands.
The most eminent legal prohibitions relate to land servicing and these include the construction of roads and water pipes before people can settle in any given area.
Wisdom Siziba, Zirup president, said the institute has come up with recommendations that critical for boosting activity in the national housing market, currently depressed.
“We think that legislation should enforce consultation with regional and urban planners prior to plan- formulation, rather than the current situation where regional and urban planners are asked to comment on already-drafted plans,” Siziba said.
According to Siziba, the consultations are usually done after plan- formulation through the media, a process which is informal. Besides, low-income earners are usually not consulted on housing issues that concern them.
Siziba said the current planning processes were exclusionary to low-income earners, compared to requirements laid out by the local authorities in relation to the Urban Council Act.
“Housing should be viewed as a basic human right. The pro-upgrading legislation should also be considered an alternative to informality in cities.”
Siziba recommended that the packaging of by-laws in local and simplified languages would make planning an inclusive process.
“As Zirup, we recommend the adoption of incremental development as an approach to building cities’ housing. We believe this should be a process.”
Toriro also said more houses would be built every year if the country embraced the model for innovation and flexibility.
“We should give a chance to everyone to get access to housing, while we as authorities need to regulate with innovation and flexibility to achieve a lot more,” Toriro said.
Toriro said local authorities should also give urban communities room to develop their houses with their own resources and at their own time, limiting their role to checking on adherence to standards required.
The country produced the lowest number of stands in 2004 when 200 allotments were made nationally and the highest figure was in 1989 when 10 000 were made available.
Government is struggling to clear the national housing backlog due to shortage of funds to service land and prohibitive legislation, and has recently decided to upgrade savings and credit clubs to cooperatives to enable them to access housing land.

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