Comments to the Nairobi Master Plan by the Friends: THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT

Street pathway by Natalie Sham

Based on City Park this information can be used for public green spaces throughout the city.  Here we suggest specific areas where the Nairobi Master Plan can be bolder in addressing the real needs of the people.

(The full document is available for download (see below). This is the third of four posts, of excerpts from the document.)

Suggested road cross section by Natalie Sham

SECTION III. THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT

…The new masterplan aims to integrate the different facets required for a functioning city – including transport, access to water and electricity and waste management etc. However, we need clearer supporting evidence to show there will be adequate utilities provided in the masterplan. This is a critical missing piece of information for ‘participatory governance.’

•    Understanding the current and future capacity of utilities at a City and sub-centre level, is critical to meeting the housing needs of this City. Currently, most developers complain of the exhorbitant cost of servicing land for housing – which can be as high or higher than the cost of the raw land itself. Also, the current situation where each developer services his own land, is highly inefficient, compared to a central body enabling services for a large piece of land…

The Masterplan should identify which areas of land will receive priority for being serviced – and hence open up large areas of land. This system has been systematically been used in large cities of India…In India, one can buy a finished apartments with all services connected, in the periphery of large cities like Mumbai and Ahmedabad and Bangalore for as little as USD 10,000.

These neighborhoods are functioning and lively centres, with public transport, health care and educational facilities, recreation, shopping and retail facilities available. In Nairobi, Suraya is making a bold effort to reach this price point at Sucasa, but the housing they are providing is far from any other services, other than what is provided on the land itself.

•    The Masterplan needs to have a stronger vision for each sub-centre.

For example GIBB report Section3-9 ‘Development of Sub-Centres’ reads as follows for Dandora:Proposals for Dandora sub-centre include:

  • Surrounding areas of Dandora Railway station be developed for a high density residential and commercial mixed development
  • Adoption of Plot Ratio of 300% allowing for housing for about 24,00
  • Development of access roads between Kangundo and Koma Roack Roads
  •  Underground installation of power lines should be considered to utilize its way leave which count more than 30 ha area; and
  • Improvement of Koma Rock road together with Dandora Station development

These proposals consider several factors like density and transport, but appear to be formulated within a vacuum. As a starting point, it should clearly state what is the current population of Dandora, and what the future population is expected in 5,15, 30 years.  The income bracket of the population should be understand…

•   We cannot simply allow every private developer to increase their developable area (300% in this case, but increased everywhere), without recognizing that this increased development will further tax our already stretched utilities and services. How will the additional population be catered for?

•    The UK has 2 excellent planning regulations which can be adapted for use in Kenya.

(1) The first is S 109 agreements – these require every large developer to reach a transparent agreement with the local authority, on what the developer will contribute to public services, ‘in exchange’ for being granted planning permission. So, for example, if a developer is going to build a large shopping centre, he can be required to improve the transport linkages near the shopping centre as part of the S 109 agreement and to provide a financial contribution to the maintenance of a green park near the shopping centre.

(2) A second excellent planning regulation in the UK is the obligatory provision of affordable housing virtually all developments…

•    The Masterplan should provide for different density allowances depending on the scale of the development. For example, what someone can build on 1 acre of land can be higher than on a ¼ acre x 4, as on one acre there is more room for planning the access, investing in infrastructure. This is similarly true for very large scaled developments like 50 acres plus. If incentives are provided for the provision of well planned, large scale developments, this will encourage the market to come together and assemble large parcels…

•    The Masterplan also needs to provide guidance for education / healthcare provision. Currently, most large developments are required to put in a nursery school. But what happens when there are 20 large developments in say Athi River, but no one is putting in a primary or secondary school. Similarly to health care – several people put in a small clinic, but when the population from many developments adds up, you need to be looking at larger health service provision…

•    The Masterplan should also look at road and pedestrain access to each parcel. An example of poor planning is the development along Mombasa Road. All plots facing Mombasa Road cut an entry to the highway itself – this is dangerous and inefficient…

•    The issue of food security in urban centres is gaining more importance world over – the potential of urban agriculture – through permaculture / roof top gardening etc  – is hugely progressive… (The proposition of agriculture on land at ground level may not be justified due to the cost of land and competing land requirements, but can also be provided for in peripheral estates).

Friends-of-City-Park-comments-on-Masterplan-2014-04-01.pdf (465 downloads)
Friends of City Park comments to Nairobi Master Plan, following consultation with GIBB International on 31 March 2014

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