RESIDENTS of the Greater Grange area comprising The Grange, Kambanji and Glen Lorne have petitioned the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works objecting to the Ministry’s plans to consider approving stands on a wetland in the area.
Recently, the Ministry gave notice to residents that it was considering an application to convert an open space (wetland) reserved for recreational purposes in The Grange suburb for residential development.
In the notice to residents whose properties adjoin the area in question, the Ministry invited property owners who might have objections to the change of land use to lodge them in writing.
“This office is processing an application of change of reservation over portion of remainder of Stand 1 Grange Township from public open space and recreation to residential stands in terms of Section 49 (3) of the Regional Town and Country Planning Act (Chapter29:12),” read the letter to residents.
According to the Enterprise Corridor Development Plan 60, the property in question was reserved for public open space and recreation but a process to change the land use to make way for residential stands is now underway.
The Ministry of Local Government said in terms of the Regional Town and Country Planning Act, it may authorise the use of reserved land for other purposes after property owners with houses adjoining the land in question have been notified and afforded an opportunity to lodge objections or representations to the proposal.
Residents were asked to lodge their objections with the Chief Director for Spatial Planning and Development, 6th Floor Makombe Building, Corner Leopold Takawira Street and Herbert Chitepo Avenue P.O. Box CY 968 Causeway, Harare.
And the residents have been coordinating the signing of a petition to object to the establishment of stands in the area in question.
“We, the residents of Greater Grange area comprising The Grange, Kambanji, Glen Lorne, and whose addresses, identification and contact details are contained at the foot of this document, do hereby lodge an objection to the proposal contained in your letter dated 8 March 2023 in respect of the proposed change of reservation of portion of the remainder of Stand 1 The Grange Township from public open space to residential.
“Having carefully considered the contents of your letter in question, we now hereby place it on record that we object to the proposal,” the residents wrote in the petition.
The residents gave the following reasons for their objection:
- While we are made aware of the fact that of the 27 hectares the of land affected by this notice, only 10 hectares are earmarked for residential purposes and the remaining 17 hectares, which is wetland, is set aside for “low impact projects”, we strongly object to any use of wetlands for commercial purposes as such use will damage the ecosystem and adversely affect the water supply in general within the precinct of the developed area. It is also not clear what “low impact projects” are and how they will impact the environment.
- The land in question was, from the beginning, left as an open space because it is a valley that is unsuitable for human habitat. With the climate change phenomena that are evidently present in these last few decades in our part of the world that have seen an increase in dangerous weather conditions such as cyclones and the like, such a low-lying area is most likely to be affected with debilitating consequences. We accordingly implore you to not approve the proposal as it will always remain a potential hazard and a source of agony at any time in the future.
- Further, and in any event, in our considered and respectful view, the size of the land in question is too small for sizable low density residential stands which are normally about 4 000 square metres. This being the case, the proposed stands will be medium density that would have been foisted and or imposed in a low density area. We have no doubt that this will negatively affect the values of the already existing adjoining properties.
- To our understanding, according to the city’s densification plan, the minimum stand sizes ought to be approximately 2 000 square metres in order to accommodate sceptic tanks. As such, any lesser stand sizes would need proper sewerage systems.
- The very fact that the proposal is conversion of the land to residential entails an increase in population in the area. It follows therefore that there shall also be increased pressure on other amenities such as roads that are already failing to cope. We are of the view that the proposal ought to be rejected in our respectful view.
- It is common cause that for some time now, the adjoining properties to the land in question rely on bore holes for the supply of water for their domestic uses. This is due to the fact that the City of Harare has not been supplying water to the contiguous properties consistently. This means the new residents shall also be obliged to sink boreholes putting more pressure on underground water. To our understanding, underground water is not an endless source of water. It can also dry up. We need not mention the consequences of such an eventuality.
- Finally, we are of the view that if the proposal is passed and the development undertaken, then the natural ecosystem of the whole area and beyond including the river basin will be adversely affected. No one needs that.
“In view of the above reasons, we hereby attach our signatures hereunder to register our objection to the land being converted to residential use and we pray that the status quo be maintained and continued,” the residents wrote in the petition.
Permanent Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution in Harare Metropolitan Province Mr Tafadzwa Muguti has said his Office will be seeking explanations from the Ministry because some people were already on the ground preparing to develop the open space. He urged residents to continue fighting to protect the wetland.