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Establishing your plot boundaries

By | November 25th 2010

By Francis Gichuhi

Molongo town located along Mombasa Road and about 15 minutes drive from Nairobi’s CBD was stage to a highly emotive tussle between property owners, the Ministry of Lands and the Ministry of Roads.

Some of the buildings in this town were ‘chain sawed’ and sliced to remove those parts that had encroached onto the road reserve.

To avoid such a scenario on your property, it is important to understand how plot boundaries are created and the processes to be followed before constructing your building.

Registered physical planner

The procedure begins with the original landowner consulting a physical planner to come up with a sub-division plan. The planner develops a plan on how the piece of land will be sub-divided into smaller plots. The sub-division plan is then submitted to the relevant local authority for deliberations by the town planning department.

The local authorities have by-laws that regulate plot sizes. For example, land in Karen and Muthaiga areas can be sub-divided to a minimum of 0.5 acre sizes while land in Eastlands area can be subdivided to a minimum of 1/8th of an acre.

These by-laws regulate the different zones so as to maintain certain required atmospheres within specific neighbourhoods. After the local authority planning department reviews the sub-divisions, they may request the land owner through his appointed physical planner to make amendments such as increasing the plot size, increasing the road and road reserve sizes.

The common road sizes (road carriageway plus road reserve) are nine metres, 12m, 15m, 18m, 25m and 30m depending on the opinion of the physical planner and local authority’s town planning department. For example, if the traffic envisaged is high, the authority might request the physical planer to expand the road reserve.

The Land Acquisition Act allows the Government to compulsorily acquire land for expansion of roads and compensate the landowner at an agreed amount as per the Act. This is happening on the Thika Road expansion whereby affected plot owners are handsomely compensated.

The local authority have a duty to make decisions on whether to allow for future expansion of the road in the initial sub-division application or let the Land Acquisition Act take action in future when the expansion will be needed.

Six-metre setback

The local authority enforces a by-law that requires plot owners to set back their buildings six metres from the main access road. The six-metre line setback also aims to allow for such infrastructure expansions. The plot owner through a registered architect enforces this during the application for building plans approval.

The writer is an architect .

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