Jan 26, 2024 Land

Buy land wherever in the country but know that the government ultimately decides how you use it as a way to maintain order. 

The Physical Planning Act, 1996, gives the Director of Physical Planning and allied officers the mandate to require that local authorities – in the counties – enforce the Act for development and use of land. The main zones in Kenya are residential, commercial, agricultural, mixed zones, and industrial, and any alteration to these properties needs the government’s approval. We will look at zoning later, including why the government segments land into these categories. 

Change of User

You bought agricultural land in rural Kenya, but your business mind sees the need for commercial properties because raw material needs processing right in the counties. You’re raring to go, which is great, but you will need to change that land’s state first before development, or you will stir up trouble with the local authorities. 
The process can be time-consuming but is necessary and mandatory when you need to tweak things.  

Steps for Change of Land Use 

Notify the Authorities: The county government will need to know your intentions in a process done with the help of a registered physical planner. You will fill in a PPA1 form - Physical Planning Act – that will be accompanied by a detailed description of the land’s current use and proposed plans that necessitate a change of state. The planner’s report should explain the expected effects on the area, and the process will only succeed if these effects are positive. A fee applies. 

Public Notice: You will issue a public notice with at least two publications with nationwide reach to give parties time to comment or object – not less than 14 days. The county government will receive any comments and/or objections during this period and act accordingly. If none are raised, the process moves to the next stage. 

Review of Proposal: The county officials will review the proposal and get back with a yes or no in about 20 days – or more, depending on the matter. If the proposal does not contravene the PPA, the officials issue a PPA2 form, allowing the investor to move to the next stage. 

Change of Deed: The investor will surrender the old title deed and new deed plans to the National Land Commission for a title change to signify the new state. The property will be re-surveyed, land rates revised, and, later, a new deed issued. 
The investor can develop the property as approved two years from when this change is made. 

Note: The county government should detail the reason for refusal if the application is denied, and you have the right to appeal if the grounds sound insufficient. 

What necessitates land use change? Growing populations lead people to move inward into parts that would otherwise be designated for agriculture. When too many industries come up in an area, they could render it unsafe for residential purposes from all the pollution, necessitating rezoning. The government could reclaim land and rezone it if it discovers mineral, gas, and fossil fuel deposits. 

If an investor develops property without changing its state where it was necessary, they risk its repossession by the government. 

Now, Back to Zoning…

Why is zoning necessary? 

Planning removes the chaos that would result from an overflow of structures. Urban areas need the proper infrastructure to ensure the comfort of those living and working there, from sewerage systems to parks and other amenities that make life comfortable. Zoning removes the possible overwhelm of infrastructure if larger than the foreseen population occupies a space. The same can be said of agricultural land. If commercial properties came up in arable areas, there would be less for food, and we would have to import essential items. The price of land would go up, and, in some spaces, families would be pushed out of their land to make space for modern development – gentrification. Zoning controls development. 

A deeper dive into the various zones we mentioned earlier:

This area is designated for single-family residences, multiple-family houses, and apartments with predetermined height. Maisonettes, apartments, condominiums, and small businesses that do not violate the Act are categorized here too.  
This is arable land for growing cash and food crops and rearing animals. Most of it has freehold status.  
Manufacturing and processing take place here, where they cannot interfere with life. These places may have higher pollution levels, hence the need to fence them away. 
These accommodate businesses, malls, and complexes where commercial activities take place and are located where the infrastructure supports them. 
Mixed-Use Zoning 
Many activities can co-exist in these zones. Kitengela comes to mind when this category is mentioned because it serves commercial, agricultural, and residential purposes. 
When you talk to your Pro-Property expert, ask them about the zoning regulation of your property of interest, and if you need to change its state, they will lead you to the right people for the process. In the meantime, it would be a shame to miss out on this mali safi located in Ngong’. Hit us up now for viewing.