Residents question plans to turn Mabelreign greenways into residential stands

23 Feb, 2024 - 00:02 0 Views
Residents question plans to turn Mabelreign greenways into residential stands Government and City of Harare officials at the meeting at Mabelreign District Office last Tuesday.

Suburban

Suburban Reporter

Harare residents have questioned the decision to allocate residential stands on greenways in Mabelreign following the approval of the Mabelreign Local Area Plan last year saying the original plan to leave the greenways as breathing spaces should have been upheld.

Residents were commenting on Ward 16 Councillor Denford Ngadziore’s statement giving an update about a meeting held on Tuesday last week to discuss the invasion of greenways, wetlands and other open spaces in the area.

In his statement, Cllr Ngadziore said invasion of any open spaces and greenways for housing developments in Mabelreign would not be tolerated and those in need of stands should wait for the finalisation of layout plans to facilitate allocation of stands on greenways in the suburb.

“Following the approval of the Mabelreign Local Area plan in October 2023, both the Council and the Ministry (of Local Government) are finalising layout plans to facilitate proper allocation of residential stands in greenways putting into consideration the stand sizes and other open spaces in Mabelreign, according to policy,” said Cllr Ngadziore.

His statement shared online immediately attracted reactions from residents who felt the move to change land use to allocate residential stands on greenways was ill-informed. Residents also wanted to know who the City of Harare consulted when they approved the Mabelreign Local Area Plan.

“Why should greenways be converted to residential areas?  Before this meeting (last Tuesday’s meeting), which other stakeholders did you consult for a collective position?  I foresee real trouble ahead,” said one resident.

Another resident noted that these greenways were left as breathers when Mabelreign was originally planned and should be left to serve that purpose. If authorities wanted to provide housing for home seekers they should make use of farms surrounding Harare instead of congesting existing suburbs by building on greenways, argued the resident.

Residents told Cllr Ngadziore that they might regret the decision to turn greenways into residential stands because nature has a way of hitting back at poorly made decisions. The residents said flooding will be a problem in the area if the stand allocations go ahead.

But Cllr Ngadziore said the review of the Mabelreign Local Area Plan to convert greenways into residential stands started in 1994 although residents insisted there was a reason why the areas were left as greenways in the first place.

“… amongst many of the reasons for their existence, most of those spaces also act as waterways. If closed up it will cause flooding in surrounding properties. There is a reason why they were left as they were by Rhodesian city planners who planned areas like Mabelreign. Sadly, nowadays every open space is seen as wasted land or stands in our current systems. They should just leave areas that were planned way back as they are.  It really boggles the mind why they want to disturb communities which were already planned long ago. Those who left those open spaces and greenways knew what they were doing. Had they been meant to be stands they wouldn’t have left them open. There are many farms out there, which they can convert to residential use,” argued a resident.

The residents said there were several farms near Harare which could be developed for housing to start new cities or towns because Mabelreign just like other Harare suburbs was once a farm that was turned into a residential area.

Last week, Government announced that it had embarked on a programme to ensure there is order in the allocation of land countrywide.

Local Government and Public Works Minister Winston Chitando said the programme was not suburb specific but will cover the whole of Harare and indeed the entire country.

He was addressing journalists on Tuesday at Mabelreign District Office after meeting City of Harare officials, Government officials and Members of Parliament. The meeting was called to discuss the problem of land barons in Ward 16 which covers most parts of Mabelreign and neighbouring suburbs.

The Minister also confirmed that council had approved the Mabelreign Local Development Plan Number 20.

“And this Local Development Plan largely relates to the green spaces which exist by design, they have always been there since the Greater Mabelreign area was established.

“In terms of the Local Development Plan, they have been rezoned as residential to accommodate dwellings and development of residential stands,” said Minister Chitando.

He said the majority of the greenways, green spaces and infill stands belong to Government with the City of Harare also owning a smaller percentage.

“It has come to our attention that there are some people who are occupying these infills without the requisite approval which is illegal.

“You cannot occupy State land without the necessary approval.

“As things stand, no land since the adaption by council of that Local Development Plan has been and is being issued out.

“So that land belongs to Government and it will be issued out at the appropriate time and with appropriate announcements being made,” said Minister Chitando.

He said the same applies to council land.

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