Urban centers face acute housing deficit

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Most urban centers are facing an acute housing deficit that has forced 60 percent of residents to seek accommodation in informal settlements.

Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary Aidah Munano says developers were constructing on average 20,000 housing units annually against a demand of 250,000.

Munano says plans are underway to construct at least a million housing units over the next five years to plug the deficit.

Kenya is currently experiencing a deficit of 1.85 million housing units mainly in the urban centers meaning that a large number of residents live in informal settlements.

PS Munano, says there has been a challenge of delivering adequate housing mainly among the middle class with developers on average constructing 20,000 housing units annually against a demand of 250,000.

This is being addressed through the now operational Kenya Building Research Center.

Even with the increasing housing deficit, concerns over unplanned and poorly constructed buildings have risen with the situation worsened by poor housing designs more so green houses in Kenyan towns.

The PS was speaking during a workshop on the 2017-2021 strategic housing plan where issues to do with affordable housing, financing and building technology among others were discussed.

Nairobi

The residential houses dominated the Sh53.5 billion building plans requests filed at City Hall for approval in the first six months of 2017.

A Kenya Property Developers Association review shows 74.21 per cent of the 1,140 applications came from private residential house developers.

Commercial class buildings took 5.44 per cent while public class that mostly comprises religious and social hall projects took nine per cent with industrial class taking 10.4 per cent.

A mixed-use development project by Rossyln Properties valued at Sh5.4 billion was the most expensive project approved. Some 868 of the building plans approved were residential properties valued at between Sh1 million to Sh50 million.

However, the developers’ lobby group decried the slow pace of approvals, which it noted took an average of 52 days per project with 13 per cent of plans taking more than three months.

Another 14.2 per cent of the building plans were approved within seven days while 14.3 per cent were approved by the second week, with only a quarter of the plans being processed within a month.

Some 32 per cent of the applications were approved within three months while 11.4 per cent took up to a year to get approved. Another 2.4 per cent of the projects took more than a year to get approved.

The upmarket Karen suburb had the highest number of approvals in the residential and commercial category, showing a major leaning by developers toward the middle- and high-end market.

Upper Hill, Westlands, Lavington and Kilimani were reported as leading spots for residential developments in that order.

Industrial Area saw a high demand for industrial developments among them warehouses and industries but surrounding towns in Nairobi’s metropolitan region had the highest residential and public use class developments.

The report, which seeks to promote expeditious processing of building plans approvals to spur construction activities in Nairobi, said the county government could earn more than the Sh493.9 million realised during the period under review if the specialist committee appointed by the urban planning development expedited its processing ability.