The Implications of Rezoning on Land Use Pattern and Infrastructure: A Case Study of Kilimani, Nairobi

Studies on urban growth have been undertaken over the last century trying to explain the spatial distribution of land uses. The most serious work was conducted in the 20th century by what is now referred to as the Chicago School of Thought in the land use planning paradigm.


Most of the theories tried to explain the process of urban growth but failed to explain the factors that influence decision making at the micro level by the investors whose actions shape up the land use pattern in the urban areas. It is due to the above stated shortcoming that this study was imperative in evolving a comprehensive body of knowledge to explain the complex interactions of market forces in a changing planning environment. The study examines the factors that determine the investment behavior and their contribution to the current land use pattern after rezoning. The area under study was originally zoned for low density high income residential user comprising bungalows and maisonettes on relatively large pieces of land ranging from half an acre upwards.

The plots were fully serviced with water, sewer, and electricity and had bituminized roads. Rapid population growth in the city of Nairobi in the last couple of years coupled with economic growth and rising levels of income has increased effective demand for housing encouraging investors to demolish the existing improvements and develop high density residential units. The developers put pressure on the local authority to consider revising the densities on the grounds that they were not making reasonable returns on their investments due to the high land values. The zoning was eventually revised in 1987 and again in 2006 allowing densification. This meant maximization of land use with apartments as opposed to the earlier residential maisonettes and bungalows sitting on half-acre plots. However, the densification policy was formulated without a systematic proactive planning to accommodate and guide the possible developments. The current developments have strained the existing infrastructural services like roads, water and sewer which are yet to be expanded.

This study therefore examines the trend in land use after rezoning and the factors determining the land use in Kilimani area. The study also looks at the effects of the emerging land use on the available infrastructural services and the environment.


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