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Controversy rages over new housing projects in Osborne Foreshore Estate

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One of the controversial structures being developed by Lekki Gardens in Osborne Foreshore, Lagos

• Lagos meets parties, plans new development plan
The emerging battle to wade off private developers and investors from constructing multi-storey structures in expansive residential estate named “Osborne Foreshore Phase II Estate,” on the highbrow area of Lagos, last week showed no signs of ending, as contending parties sought authorities, intervention to settle the matter.

The gated residential estate over which the battle rages stands directly opposite Dolphin estate. Controversy over the new property developments began last year, and was not resolved until the Lagos State Government held a stakeholders meeting last week.

The matter has been between Osborne Foreshore Residents Association (OSFRA) and a property developer, Messrs Lekki Garden Estate over an alleged infraction and contraventions of the state’s planning laws. Other grouse of the association includes ‘flagrant and unchecked violation of officially approved building plans.’

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In a letter signed by OSFRA II Chairperson, Chinwe Ezenwa-Mbah and Chairman, Board of Trustees, sir Steve Omojafor, the residents said: “Lekki Gardens got a planning approval for five family housing units on about 1,500 square metres of land but has developed 25 family units.

“On a similar land size, the Lekki Gardens had approval for 28 family units but increased it to 84 family units without any consideration of car parks. On yet another location within the estate, Lekki Gardens developed 78 family units in clear and brazen violation of its approved building plan and without car parking lots or adequate consideration for organic waste management.”

The association appealed to government for the reversion of the original master plan of the wrongful classification of Osborne Foreshore Phase II from a low-density to a high-density residential estate.

They also called for the removal of all infractions after payment of penalties as well as ensure that the developer comply with relevant physical planning requirements and building approvals.

But in a response, the management of Lekki Gardens Estate Limited said the letter by the association is defamatory and malicious, adding that the company has all requisite approvals from constituted and legally empowered authorities for all its projects and is not in violation of any of the approvals.

“The estate is susceptible to flooding by virtue of its location and contrary to the claims, Lekki Gardens has contributed significantly to the infrastructural development of the estate by building a 299 metres perimeter drainage and 400 metres toad on Acacia Drive in addition to periodically embarking on a myriad of infrastructural development projects as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility.

“In the last two years, Lekki Gardens has paid OSFRA the sum of N24.5 million as fees for infrastructure and development of the estate. OSFRA in its campaign of calumny has resorted to blaming every infraction on unrelated construction sites in the estate on Lekki Gardens even when they have the facts to the contrary,” the company said.

MEANWHILE, a stakeholders meeting to review Osborne Foreshore Residential Scheme II approval order was held in Alausa last week. There was a shouting match between the warring parties before the frayed nerves were calmed.

They agreed on review of the Approval Order and Operational Development Plan for the Osborne Foreshore Residential Scheme II estate.

Speaking at the Stakeholders’ meeting/ Presentation on the Review of the Approval Order, the state’s Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Idris Salako, said the crave for the review of the extant Approval Order was not unconnected with the observed disparities in the Approval Order of Osborne Foreshore II and that of Banana Island, Ikoyi Southeast and Ikoyi Southwest, despite being of similar status and character.

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Salako explained that the review of the Operational Development Plan would afford timely bridging of identified gaps and inadequacies such as omissions or commissions, in order to make the Plan more comprehensive and effective.

His words: “In essence, Plan Review is a conscious intervention to make an operational Developmental Plan more effective for the plan area to be more functional as best possible”.

He emphasised that the ministry was statutorily empowered to prepare development plans for different areas as well as provide Approval Orders that were more specific on the intended use, density and operation of the identifiable segments of an area.

He said: “ The Ministry is also statutorily charged to review the existing Development Plans which have been adjudged to be outdated or no longer relevant to achieving the stated goals. Indeed, this is one of the powers of the Hon. Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development as stated in Section 5(1) (a & c) and Section 6 (1) of the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2019 (as amended), which allows for the review/amendment of Development Plans every five years”.

He reiterates that the ministry as a government formation was charged with the mandate for sustainability of the physical environment,

While the power of development control was vested in the government and not in any other entity such as the residents association.

“It is therefore noteworthy that the operative development plans are sacrosanct and that the use of any space within the plan area can only be altered through due process of an official review, contrary to which a change in use becomes illegal. There are provisions in the law for sanctioning of erring Development/Developers,” he said.

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He stated that the government had the obligation to ensure that every part of the state was committed to appropriate use, in order to achieve common social good, economic viability and environmental sustainability, Salako assured that the development plans had been prepared with due cognizance of the socioeconomic dynamics and the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2019 as amended.

Residents of the estate at the meeting included Sir Omojafor and a seasoned Public Relations practitioner, Mr. Kola Ayanwale expressed confidence in the ability of the government to come up with a plan that would be fair to all sides, while urging developers and investors in the estate to balance economics with the environment.

Also, the association Chairperson, Ezenwa-Mbah, enjoined the government to consider leaving the estate as low- density, while the private developers expressed preference for increasing the estate’s height and density.

Other notable figures at the meeting included the Chairman, House Committee on Physical Planning and Urban Development, Hon. Nureni Akinsanya, member of Lagos House of Assembly representing the area, Hon. Gbolahan Yishau, Former Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Yomi Awoniyi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Abiola Kosegbe and Deputy Director, Urban and Regional Planning, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Mrs. Catherine Ozonde.

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