City Hall moves to speed up construction approvals


City Hall building: The County Government of Nairobi has started weekly meetings to clear the backlog for construction approvals. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Developers in Nairobi can now breathe a sigh of relief after City Hall announced it has started to speed up clearance of construction permits.

Approvals had stopped since last June after the Planning Department hit a hurdle following Governor Mike Sonko’s disbandment of the technical committee charged with approving the permits.

In a notice by Nairobi County Lands and Urban Planning Executive Charles Kerich, the county government said it has kicked off weekly meetings to clear the backlog.

Mr Kerich said the technical committee under the Lands, Housing and Urban Planning Department has scheduled meetings on Wednesdays, every seven days, for consideration and approval of low-risk development applications.

He said the low-risk projects proposals to be considered are divided into five categories that include single-dwelling houses, excluding large comprehensive schemes; all renewals for already approved building plans and changes of use and sub-division schemes.

Others are all internal alterations and amendments not exceeding 500 square metres, godowns and warehouses of up to 1, 400 square metres and all apartments of four levels and below. Similarly, the Lands Executive said there will be fortnight meetings by the technical committee, every second and fourth Thursday of every month to consider and approve the other development applications which do not fall in the above categories.

"The Nairobi City County Government hereby notifies the professional consultants in the built environment, developers, property owners and the public that technical committee meetings have been scheduled every (7) seven days on Wednesdays, for consideration and approval of low-risk development applications," said Mr Kerich.

"We urge consultants to be prompt in addressing any comment posted through the e-construction and e-development permit system with regard to their development applications for ease of fast-tracking the approvals. This notice takes effect from the week of 17 th February, 2020," he added.

He said the scheduled meetings will help clear the backlog that has been in the urban planning department for close to seven months.

In September last year, the Kenya Institute of Planners (KIP) – the umbrella body of professional planners in Kenya – accused City Hall of unnecessary delays in the processing of development applications alleging undue political interference.

In their petition, KIP chairman Lawrence Esho said political pressure on officials at City Hall's Planning department and interference with an electronic platform the county had transitioned to in processing of the development applications were to blame for the inefficiency.