Concerns over flouting of parking regulations in buildings
There are growing concerns over non-compliance to the parking regulations in the real estate sector, as citizens fail to adhere to the urban and regional planning laws.
The Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Act and respective States urban and regional planning and development laws as domesticated are quite explicit on space standards, parking space, greenery and setbacks for different land uses and heights of the building.
But the contravention of some standards like the parking space has posed serious traffic management issues that lead to time delays and traffic congestion. Furthermore, the security of the residents can be in jeopardy in the event of emergencies and fire outbreaks.
For example, a commercial bank in Owerri, the Imo state capital got approval to use the entire ground floor for parking but it was later converted to rooms and presently both their staff and those who come to the bank park outside.
Similarly, a developer in Lagos Mainland who secured a planning permit to build a three-floor structure of two units each per floor with the ground floor designed as parking has converted the entire ground floor to two flats.
There are so many of such cases in Ikeja, Mushin, Surulere and other parts of the state, where there are no parking spaces forcing motorists and residents to park on the roads even in private estates.
But experts said there is a need to go beyond giving approvals, visiting the sites during construction and doing an audit every five-10 years to restore parking regulations.
President, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Chief Lekwa Ezutah, said there are indeed regulations, which prescribe standards that guide development, control activities and on which basis are standards for development permits, are granted or denied.
Accordingly, there are standards for the provision of car parking spaces for various kinds of land uses: residential, commercial, industrial, and recreational, among others.
According to him, this requirement must be met before a development permit is granted, however often times the space reserved for parking are converted to other uses after the development is completed
The NITP president urged development controls to go beyond pre-completion supervision and go on to post-occupation audit to ensure developers conform to approved use.
Also, former NITP Chairman, Lagos State, Mr. Moses Ogunleye, said parking has become a critical challenge in cities across the globe as cities have evolved different policies to manage the problem.
Such, he said, are usually integrated with other policies or regulations on land use, transport modes and transport facilities.
Ogunleye regretted that in Nigeria, “we are yet to properly integrate ours. More importantly, the ways our cities have evolved makes parking policies, plans and regulations difficult to operationalise or even enforce.”
For example, there are no central parking facilities in major activity centres of Lagos. Apart from the Marina in Lagos Island, you can hardly find a purpose-built parking area. This becomes challenging not only in commercial zones or districts but also in core residential areas.
He stressed that the Lagos State requirement for a car park or parking provision for residential development is two car park spaces for a dwelling unit.
“ So where you have two flats on a plot, provision should be made for four car parks. This is the minimum.
In other words, a developer or property owner can provide more. But you now have instances in which many residential properties have been turned into commercial uses”, he said.
He said such uses generate more traffic and therefore, the provision made cannot cope with the activities.
To change the situation, Ogunleye said the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority should first do a parking provision audit for buildings to ascertain their level of compliance to the permit granted.
“I’m sure many buildings will perform poorly in the audit. Their owners should be sanctioned,” he said.
But the spokesperson of the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA), Mrs. Abimbola Umeh said no developer is granted a permit for any building without parking space.
According to her, the developers must have gone out of their way without conforming with the permit approval given to them.
She said before the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) do go around to make sure that people conform with building approvals given to them but recently LASPPA has started monitoring buildings to ensure compliance under its marketing and compliance unit.
Mrs. Umeh, however, stressed that in some cases existing parking spaces like Ogunlana Drive in Surulere were taken by government for expansion of the roads network, thereby making houses which hitherto have parking spaces to lose them for the public interest.