City faces backlash over development plans

24 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
City faces backlash over development plans Residents say they are being pushed out of their neighbourhoods as council approves development permits for office blocks and commercial centres.


Peter Tanyanyiwa Suburban Reporter

Residents in the serene and leafy suburbs of Harare, including Borrowdale, Avondale, and Old Alexandra Park, have voiced their discontent with what they perceive as a deliberate attempt by the City of Harare to displace them from their neighbourhoods.

Their concerns stem from the recent surge in commercial permits for various developments in these areas, ranging from fuel stations, office blocks, cluster houses and bars, which reportedly cause noise pollution, particularly from Thursdays to Sundays, disturbing the tranquility in the residential areas.

A notable case brought to light is in Old Alexandra Park along Fleetwood Road, where a residential property was recently demolished to pave the way for commercial units, including a bar that overlooks a neighbour’s yard, triggering apprehensions over privacy and noise-related nuisance.

The City of Harare’s Works and Town Planning Committee recently conducted assessments in several suburbs, such as Greendale, Waterfalls, Warren Park, and N. Richards area, to review applications for change of land use in the suburbs.

While the committee aimed to ensure compliance with all prerequisites before making decisions on the applications, residents have raised objections regarding the lack of consultation and the potential strain these developments may impose on existing infrastructure, including sewer systems, water, and electricity.

They feel that their concerns have been disregarded, prompting former Harare North Member of Parliament Mr. Allan Markham to offer assistance to the residents in exploring legal recourse.

Responding to the residents’ objections, an official from the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) emphasised that the agency takes into account views expressed through public consultations and underscored the necessity of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) certificate for the approval of any project.

“The agency considers views expressed through public consultations and underscores the importance of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) certificate for the approval of any project.”

Harare Mayor Councillor Jacob Mafume has also addressed the trend of densification, which encompasses the development of flats, cluster houses, and the subdivision of low-density stands. Cllr Mafume highlighted the evolving preferences of residents, noting their increasing interest in residing in compact neighbourhoods with a strong sense of community and enhanced security.

He stressed the importance of developing sewer infrastructure and adapting to the rising population densities.

“Densification, including the development of flats, cluster houses, and the subdivision of low-density stands, reflects the current trend.

“It’s essential to adapt to the changing preferences of residents and to develop infrastructure in line with the increasing population density,” said Mafume.

The Harare Mayor urged residents to remain attentive to the city’s zoning regulations and to stay informed about the planning regime to ensure that processes are carried out in accordance with established procedures.

In addition to concerns about land use, residents have also raised issues pertaining to noise pollution.

The Borrowdale District Office has initiated measures to crack down on properties causing noise pollution in the suburb.

Nevertheless, residents assert that the unchecked flouting of City of Harare by-laws continues, with events and gatherings being held in residential areas, disrupting the peace of neighbours.

They have called for stricter enforcement of by-laws to uphold the habitability of residential areas.

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