Harare reviewing archaic master plan

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City of Harare is working on reviewing the Harare Combination Master Plan (HCMP) of 1993 to ensure that it promotes growth and to improve service delivery.

A city master plan is a document prepared by a city’s planning department and spells out the appropriate land use within an area. The master plan contains aerial photos, illustrations, maps, reports, and statistical information to support the planning vision.

In his State of the City Address at Harare House on the 13 April, Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni said that the city planning and development division was working on reviewing the HCMP which is due for review after 15 years, but is now 23 years old.

“The review of the Harare Combination Master Plan is therefore a vehicle through which the City of Harare will promote development and growth of the city as well as fostering order and dealing with city challenges which include traffic congestion, lack of a mass public transportation system, urban sprawl, rural to urban migration, poor service provision, and rapid population growth among others. A budget of US$2 million has been set aside to ensure the successful completion of this overdue project,” said the Mayor.

The City has gone through massive changes since the old master plan was drafted. Harare’s Chief Planner Samuel Nyabeze was quoted by the Herald explaining that the new master plan will address other land uses that are not catered for in the current master plan.

“We are in the process of reviewing the master plan to ensure that it is in tandem with the times we are living in. We also want to ensure that the CBD does not get overstretched. We realise that most suburbs do not have services, that is why people crowd the CBD,” explained Nyabeze.

Some stakeholders have in the past urged council to review its master plan arguing that the document of 1993 was now out of sync with modern day planning. Urban planning expert Percy Toriro explained that a master plan should set out the key issues that affect the different functions of the city.

“It is important that a master plan remains relevant for the efficient development of the city. In Zimbabwe master plans have a lifespan of 10 years and the Harare master plan is out of date. Many significant developments such as the land reform program, ESAP, and the informalisation of the economy have occurred after the master plan was prepared. All these can no longer be addressed by the 1993 plan,” explained Toriro.

However, other residents have questioned whether council will be able to adhere to the master plan. One resident from the Avenues who refused to be named said that a new master plan will have little effect in addressing the City’s situation.

“I do not see the crafting of a new master plan having any effect in addressing the current chaotic situation especially in housing. What is needed is to preserve and follow the existing plans and laws. We cannot continue crafting new plans yet we are failing to adhere to the existing ones,” said the resident.