Government plans to convert open spaces into residential homes

Residents of the Warren Park suburb of Harare are resisting the Department of Local Government and Works’ proposal to convert open spaces intended for recreational purposes into housing.

In a letter dated February 17, 2022, the Department of Local Government, through its Land Use Planning Department, sent a circular proposing the “change of use” of stand number 249 Warren Park from a open public recreational space for residential use.

“It is intended to change the reservation on an open space, stand 249 Warren Park Township from public open space and recreational use to residential use under section 49 (3) and (4) of the Regional, Urban and Rural Planning Act (Chapter 29:12)” reads part of the letter.

Residents have responded by sending letters of objection to the proposed changes to which the Department of Local Government has yet to respond.

In their objections, residents questioned the Department of Local Government on the rationale for the change of use which contradicts Harare City’s recommendations.

On Warren Park Open Spaces (Booths 249, 250 and 463), a Departmental Construction Manager memorandum dated July 31, 2019, stated “After consultations, it has been agreed that construction work on the open spaces be halted and the spaces back to be open space for public use.

The works manager recommended that the beneficiaries affected by the decision be “reassigned stands elsewhere” and not on the free spaces.

The intention of the Ministry of Local Government comes at a time when the lack of recreational and social facilities is considered by Harare residents to be a major cause of drug addiction, as most of the open spaces intended for recreation have been transformed in housing.

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) has called on the Department of Local Government to respect residents’ approvals and called for the alignment of laws with the Constitution.

“The CHRA calls on the Department of Local Government to respect the recommendations of the residents of Warren Park, as this is consistent with Section 264 (2) (a) and (d) of the Constitution which gives the power of local governance to the people “. and recognize the right of communities to manage their own affairs. The CHRA urgently recommends the alignment of local government laws with the Constitution and the full implementation of decentralization as provided for in Chapter 14 of the Constitution”, said the CHRA.

Castle Tankard