The reaction of the Lagos State Government to the on-going planning infractions at the Osborne Foreshore 2 Estate Ikoyi to the call for urgent intervention by the government raises issues that must be addressed for the future of Urban Planning practice.
The Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Idris Salako, alluded to the “continuous agitation” of residents as the reason for increase in height and density standards of the Estate by his Ministry as the reason for the current situation but did not clearly state why adequate control and enforcement was not effected on violators.
The Commissioner’s assertion clearly negates the general thrust of demands by the Estate Residents’ Association who have been clamouring for a reversal of the regulations which clearly portend a continuous decline of living standards if unchecked in the near future. The numerous consultations referred to by the Commissioner, from my investigation, were initiated mainly by the residents and were channeled towards seeking redress over the obnoxious regulations in the estate. This is at variance with the notion peddled about reviewing the Master Plan or agitating for increase in density and height standards in the Estate by residents.
Inclusiveness in Urban Planning is a desirable practice but when demands for change in existing planning regulations are requested for by citizens, it is the duty of the Town Planner to make adjustments based on sound professional judgment and following Due Process.
In the case of Osborne Foreshore 2 Estate, are there adequate infrastructural facilities to support the upward review of these standards? Are there realistic plans and adequate funding to upgrade existing ones? Will the increase in density standards improve the living standards in the Estate or affect it negatively? These and many other considerations should drive such important decisions.
My investigation reveals that there is no evidence that the residents of the Estate demanded for either increase in height regulations or increase in density. The duly constituted and recognised leadership of the Estate Residents’ Association’s energy towards reversing the current trend gives credence to this.
However, the activities of developers within the estate may be fingered as the crux of the problem. It is however unethical to place the yearnings of developers who are purely driven by financial gains above the general wellbeing of the residents and label it as the “continuous agitation” of the residents.
The general perception that the driving force in Planning Practice and Regulations in Lagos State is purely pecuniary, has damaged the reputation and integrity of well-meaning Planning Authorities and Planners. The accusations made by the Osborne Foreshore Estate 2 Residents’ Association pertaining to the compromise of the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development in allowing major planning violations to exist and failing to maintain acceptable standards in the Estate should propel the authorities to re-consider and reverse standards that do not augur well for the residents.
I am not aware of any review sent by the Federal Ministry of Works & Housing to the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development. It was only a copy of the Development Control Guidelines that I worked on that was given to the consultant (MOA Planners) to guide them in the preparation of the Master Plan Review.
By Tpl. Omobola Adesanya (Assistant Director, Zonal Officer for Osborne Foreshore and Banana Island, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Federal Ministry of Works & Housing)