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‘Technology driven permit process will curb haphazard development’

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Following the lift of embargo on planning approvals in Lagos areas, town planners and developers have advised the authorities to deploy merit-based procedures that align with efficient physical development in processing new requests for planning permits in the state.
 
The professionals, who lauded government’s action, made case for the preparation of development guide for the entire state to halt illegal structures and a process-driven planning permit, rather than people-driven, through investment in technology,
  
The Lagos State Government through the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development (MPP&UD) and Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPA) had recently banned the processing of planning permits due to the increasing rate of physical development throughout the state without recourse to the extant laws and regulations of the state.

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Consequently, the authorities embargoed processing of permits in some locations, which include, recently released Military acquisition at Badagry/Ajido, Oshodi/Isolo: (FAAN acquisition at Isolo), Ojo: LASU acquisition, Eti-Osa: Ajah 300 hectares acquisition, Agbado-Ipaja-Aboru, Agbelekale, Alagbado, AIT, Abule-Egba and Ikola.
  
Others are, Ikeja: Ojodu/Berger, Agege: Oke-Ira, Alimosho: Shasha, Amuwo Odofin: Satelite and FESTAC Towns, Ibeju-Lekki: Chagouri and Chagouri acquisition at Awoyaya and Iru-Victoria Island: Eko Atlantic.
  
But the government disclosed last week that applicants can now approach the state’s Physical Planning Permit Authority for processing of application with proof of land ownership, land use charge, survey plan, and other requirements.
“The Lagos State Government hereby enjoins owners and developers in the affected areas to take advantage of the kind gesture by regulating their developments and obtaining Planning Permits (Building Plan Approval) on their existing structures including Marquees, Gazebos, and containerised offices in order to safeguard their investment”.
 
Reacting to the move, the Chairman, Lagos state chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, Bisi Adedire, said the government must ensure that every application is treated based on their own merit. He stressed that request must pass the good test of physical planning requirements, to prevent an upsurge of slums within Lagos.
 
“It would guarantee the ownership right/sense of belonging to the occupants and serve as a source of revenue drive for the government. If you want to apply for planning permission, you will have to process title too by way of going to the landowners and acquire receipt and so it will go a long way to sanitise the building industry.”
  
He said the government should come up with a kind of development guide for the state, noting that it’s not the permit that really matters.

They need to prepare a development guide so that it is not all illegal occupants that would be granted planning permits. Areas of lands that have been earmarked for some specific uses like school, market, hospital, police station and health centre among others, people can’t just convert land that has been committed for public use to private use. By the time you prepare a development guide for a particular land or settlement, it will tell you the hierarchy of roads in that area, the specific use upon which land could be put to use and necessary setbacks, space that needs to be observed before erecting structures. But we just have to work in line with the prevailing situation”.
  
A former president of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, Remi Makinde said the lifting of the embargo was the safest thing to do by the government. He revealed that even though they placed an embargo, people were still building structures without approvals and building up slums from infancy everywhere. 
    
With the lifting of the embargo, he expressed optimism that people would regularise and be encouraged to come forward with their plan approval for authority to evaluate and if they have cause for amendment, they would do that and if not, the plan would be approved. 

He said following the direction, government wouldn’t be losing money and at the end of the day, people will be happy that they have an approved plan and that would make their buildings appreciate in value. 
 
He corroborated Adedire’s views on the need for development guide in the state to effectively take care of physical development in Lagos. To him, the measure would further curb the arbitrary development of structures instead of using the initiative to decide the development process.

“We have been clamouring for development guide, we need it. It would help and has to be put in place so that people don’t just use the rule of the thumb for taking decisions for various applications”, he said.
 
For the Managing Director, Eximia Realty Company Limited, Mr. Hakeem Ogunniran said the lifting of ban was a good move by the government, as it will help to accelerate development in those areas as well as free up capital, which has been locked up for several years in the locations.

“You will notice that some of the areas are very prime locations and a lot of people have invested in land and they haven’t been able to move ahead with their projects because of the restriction on planning approvals. Government deserved to be commended for this particular initiative. Hopefully, we also think that the implementation would be as smooth as the policy itself so that people could take advantage of the real benefits”, he stated.

Ogunniran advanced that the system should be process-driven rather than been people-driven through investment in technology, for it to yield a good results for everybody.
 
Another property developer and Managing Director, Crystal Tee Square Limited, Olatunde Oloyede who described the initiative as a welcome development, urged the government to control and regulate developments in the affected areas. Oloyede said, “The process must be holistic and base on development that merit approvals. There is still a need for regulation that would cater to the proper planning of our environment. There shouldn’t be a repeat of what was in existence before the embargo was enforced. The peculiarity of the different locations in terms of the right of ways, drainages, green areas, and infrastructure must be critically examined. There should be precise and thorough planning that just anyhow structures”.

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