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Nairobi City by-law to facilitate more houses

Wahinya Henry @obel_barry

A unique law passed by the Nairobi County Assembly partly offers a solution to the housing crisis in the city, says Housing and Physical Planning Principal Secretary, Dr Nicholas Muraguri. “Some by-laws passed recently by county governments will in future offer developers to put up storied buildings forbidden in the past in some parts of the city,” said Dr Muraguri.

The Nairobi County Assembly amended the zoning regulations by-laws to allow for densification in some of Nairobi’s high-end suburbs. The suburbs affected are those in Zone Four, consisting of areas such as Spring Valley, Kileleshwa and Riverside Drive.

Also included are Zone Five areas such as Kyuna, Loresho, Lavington and Upper Spring Valley as well as Dagoretti in Zone 15. According to Cytonn Investments, a real estate developer, the zones selected have experienced increased investment in infrastructure including roads and sewerage and are thus capable of accommodating larger populations.

“In our opinion, this is a move in the right direction as the relaxed zoning will open up the areas for further real estate development,” says the chief investment officer at Cytonn, Elizabeth Nkukuu. Nkukuu says investors can now develop a variety of concepts on the land such as highrise apartments and commercial buildings.

Previously, developments in these suburbs were restricted to detached and semi-detached homes as well as low-rise apartment blocks. Another benefit of the new clearance will increase the affordability of housing in the zones.

This is because the number of houses per unit of land will be higher and thus units can be lower in both sale and rental prices. The impact of the increase in land prices will be reduced due to higher number of units as a result of densification.

“Property values will increase in these estates as more value will be derived per unit of land,” she said. An example is other suburbs such as Kilimani where following relaxation of zoning regulations, land prices have already increased.

The laws, if embraced by other counties, will also reduce the housing shortage in the country by facilitating the development of more houses. Such by-laws will reduce congestion in the central business districts (CBD) and estates surrounding the rezoned estates as well as give rise to new business districts. After rezoning of Upper Hill and Kilimani, companies to migrated to these new business districts.

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