Diana Nherera Suburban Reporter
Newlands Residents Association is currently fighting developments on wetlands on Boundary Road and other parts of the suburb.
A recent meeting of the association heard that legal costs for suing developers building on wetlands are proving costly for the residents’ body.
“The association works closely with the Wetlands Trust.
“However, the issue with bringing the cases to court is the cost and also court cases require personal liability for costs from the chairman of the association,” read the minutes of the meeting.
The meeting was told that residents are resisting latest attempts to build on the land between Boundary Road and Samora Machel Avenue which they said is being marketed for $7million.
“Residents have contacted the estate agents in order to advise on the resistance and the intention to stop any development on this wetland,” read the minutes.
Harare North Member of Parliament Mr Allan Markham who also chairs the Wetlands Trust informed the meeting that 52 percent of wetlands in Harare have disappeared due to developments and increased use of boreholes.
“He advised that there are 2 400 areas of conflict with proposed developments on wetlands in Harare and 47 cases are at the courts.
“Money is needed to challenge these developments and in the last year, the donors have dropped by 30 percent, making it difficult,” the meeting heard.
Mr Markham said the Boundary Road wetlands have long been earmarked for development.
“The wetlands by Boundary Road have continuously been the subject for development and have also at times been supported by council,” he said.
Newlands residents are opposing the construction of a funfair park and bar at 26 Princess Road.
“We are currently fighting the proposed development at 26 Princess Road which includes a children’s play park, bar and restaurant.
“The chairman and Rusty Markham advised that City of Harare personnel do not enforce laws and regulations and associations need to foster relationships with personnel for any success.”
The meeting also heard about the road repairs that have been undertaken in Newlands. Knightsbridge Road and Princess Drive have been resurfaced while more roads have also been repaired with help from residents.
“Residents continue to fundraise and repair roads in their vicinity.”
On its part, the City of Harare installed road signs and constructed speed humps on some roads.
The meeting urged residents who have not secured electricity substations in their areas to do so to curb vandalism and loss of electricity.
“Safeguard offered a package to protect sub-stations with an alarm fitted with a response mechanism.
“Many of the substations are now alarmed which has reduced oil and cable theft.
“However, the Safeguard package is still available to those who have not taken advantage of this offer,” the meeting was told.
The impact of densification in the suburb came up for discussion at the meeting with revelations that about 70 housing units are being developed in Newlands.
“There are so many new developments in the area in line with City of Harare’s policy for densification.
“The impact is immense on roads, water and electricity supplies.
“The chairman stated the population of Newlands could have potentially doubled in the past few years and there are currently 70 units under construction in Newlands.
“Developers are advised by City of Harare to ensure sewer (facilities) are adapted to the needs of the (new) developments but this is rarely enforced.” Residents expressed concern over the state of roads at Newlands Shopping Centre and vendors saying this makes the shopping centre look shabby.
“The new Pick’n Pay and the adjacent parking is an improvement and there seems to be less (public) drinkers around due to the opening of the bar at Kebab Centre.
“Vendors turn to begging and harass people and the filth at the shopping centre is exacerbated by the (public) drinkers who use it as a toilet,” reads the minutes. Residents observed that some people now prefer to shop at Highlands Park Mall and no longer use Newlands Shopping Centre.
Responding to the issue of vendors, Ward 8 Councillor Keith Charumbira said the allocation of vendor designated sites is on-going.
“Mr Charumbira advised of the difficulties in identifying and decentralising vendors from local shopping centres.
“In 2018, City of Harare started looking at proper infrastructure for the vendors to sell from and some regulation for vendors who would have to apply to trade within a specific area.
“This is on-going,” the meeting was told.
Mr Markham gave the example of how the vendor issue was handled at Ballantyne Park Shopping Centre the informal traders who used to engage in public “drinking and making a mess” have now been allocated area from where to sell their wares.
“Chisipite Shopping Centre continues to spiral downwards.
“Like Newlands, tenants are losing business and property prices are dropping,” read the minutes.