• Experts urge planning permit audit of approval plans, enforcement
Despite existing laws, which mandate compulsory provision of parking spaces for new developments in Lagos metropolis, there are concerns over utter disregard for the regulations by developers and property owners.
The Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Act, as well as States Urban and Regional Planning and Development laws, make it mandatory to provision of parking spaces, greenery and setbacks for residential, commercial and industrial developments.
According to the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law, (Cap U2) Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Regulations, (2019 law) stipulates that provisions shall be calculated at two car parking spaces per dwelling unit in all residential areas, including houses, flats and duplex buildings, or two car parking spaces per 100 square meters (m2) of the plot area, while parking provisions shall also be allowed within the air spaces and front setbacks in a manner that ensures efficient traffic flow in and out of the building.
For commercial outlets, it further stated that parking provision for such development shall be one car park for every 60 square metres of the total lettable floor area; places of assembly, auditorium, conference, and event centres shall provide one parking space for every 10 square metres of usable floor space or in accordance with the development plan and its approval order.
While physical planning and development authorities in the state grant permits for buildings with the hope that property developers/owners comply with the necessary provisions, the majority of the property developers build in disregard of the law.
In both residential and commercial developments, contravention of parking spaces standard in new development has become the order of the day, with a great impact on the traffic situation in the metropolis.
The Guardian investigation shows that cases abound in Lagos Mainland, especially Yaba and Ebute Metta axis. A visit last week revealed new buildings springing up in places such as Ibadan Street, Jebba Street, Ondo by Macauley Street, Sawyer Street, Mc Cullum and Akintoye Street, among others without provisions for car parks.
A resident who spoke to The Guardian, Adeola Ajayi, lamented that many of the property developers/owners are consumed with the quest to maximise space for personal benefits as against compliance with established regulations for car parking space, making commuting difficult for other residents.
Besides the disregard for state planning law by property developers in the area, there are also markets, schools and filling stations without adequate parking spaces, which create traffic bottlenecks. Motorists usually have a hard time aligning with vehicles coming from adjoining locations, thereby making livability in such locations difficult.
Town planning professionals observe that the approving authority needs to look beyond the usual granting of approvals to regular inspections during construction and monitor post-construction to ensure that the established regulations are followed.
A former Vice Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Lagos chapter, Mr. Lookman Oshodi, said: “if you look at Ebute Metta axis, Eastern part of Borno Way, Freeman Street and Kano Street, the development from Eastern part of Yaba/Ebute Metta axis is gradually spreading to the western part. In the eastern part, development is so congested that the ability to have car parking space and some level of setbacks to guarantee good living for the residential area is not there.”
He explained that the development pattern in the area is similar to that of Lagos island, especially Isale Eko and Ebute Ero axis, where people build without consideration for car parks.
Oshodi said: “Some of the new developments follow the traditional development pattern they met. If a new development is coming, taking into consideration the existing pattern, what we may have is more of modernisation of the building, not necessarily reconfiguration of the neighbourhood.”
He noted that the Model City Plan (MCP) still retained the mode of building without parking space. “What MCP tries to achieve is a mixed-use development in which residential and commercial uses come together in the same location.
“Most of these buildings in Ebute Metta, you will see that at the upper level, people reside there, while on the ground floor, they sell different goods. The MCP tries not to change the pattern or culture of living conditions there and people coming up with new buildings follow the pattern on the ground.”
“The disregard is impacting on traffic because what they do is on-street parking. To a large extent, the area is more of a high density. Where you have high density, on-street parking is allowed. The impact on the long-term with increasing insecurity is that many of the residents may increase the provision of the vehicular gate in different neighbourhoods in the area to ensure cars are not tampered with.”
However, the President, the Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON), Muyiwa Adelu, said the government should embark on a planning permit audit of the areas to determine the level of compliance with existing regulations for buildings.
“If the property owners are not compliant with the law, we can look what corrections they can make. The last measure is that if the need be, the buildings may be pulled down. If people have flagrantly disregarded the permit issued by the government, they have to face the consequences. It happens everywhere, not only in Nigeria,” Adelu said.