The land is the only asset you cannot increase. You can only use it sustainably and in various ways. This will accommodate everyone and productively meet their needs. Have you considered changing the use of land in the past? The growth of population exerts pressure on the available land in various countries.
This leads to the need to open up a platform to change the use of land. This involves a procedure where property owners can change the use of land from one purpose to another. There is a laid down procedure on how you can change the use of land from agricultural to residential, residential to commercial, and so on.
Definition of terms in land use
- Land use: This is the stipulated use of land-based on its location and suitability. It is important to note that land use and zoning regulations are different. Land use is the suitability of the land for a particular purpose while zoning is how the government regulates developments in a specific area due to various reasons.
- Change of use: This refers to the process of changing the current status and use of land from one state to another. For example, changing the use of land from agricultural to residential. Normally, this process takes time and involves several professionals.
Types of land use
The land is designed for three main uses. They include:
- Agricultural use: This for farming cash or food crops and rearing livestock or poultry.
- Residential use: For building homes where people can reside comfortably. This includes maisonettes, apartments, etc.
- Commercial use: For putting up profit-making entities such as shops, office complexes, etc.
It is advisable to understand these metrics before investing in any land.
Why is important to understand land use?
Having an understanding of land use has these main benefits:
- It prevents frustration when it comes to utilizing the property. It can be quite frustrating to find out that you cannot develop a commercial facility because the land is purely residential or agricultural.
- Helps you to plan well for your property and seek the necessary approvals beforehand.
- It helps you project the future. For example, urbanization and the growth of population open up various properties for different uses. Having such an understanding can help you prepare and invest in an area for a future investment.
What happens if you do not change the use of land?
Using land for a different purpose without first applying for change of land use can have the following consequences.
- Failure to obtain a change of user therefore may lead to repossession of land by the government.
- The government may require the owner of the land to restore the land in question to its original condition.
Factors that lead to a change of use
- Human activities: Over time increase in human activities have affected how land is used. For example, an increase in population can lead to conversion of land from agricultural to residential. Increase in factories causes pollution in an area which can lead to the land being used for industrial activities only. Other human activities include deforestation and human activities that affect the climate and thus affecting the suitability of land for agriculture.
- Environmental changes: Activities such as water pollution, change in temperatures, the discovery of minerals, flooding, soil pollution, etc. can easily change the use of the land from one activity to another.
Persons involved in the change of land use
The government is in charge of planning and controlling how land is used and developed. Depending on the type of land either the national government or the county government can regulate it. There are a number of people and professionals involved in the change of land use. They include:
- The government: This can either be the national or the county government.
- Physical planner: He/she conducts researches on the physical, social, economic, and environmental characteristics of the land. They come up with the best use in terms of the overall plan and policies for a particular area.
- Surveyor: Responsible for clearly making the boundaries of properties.
- Land valuer: They establish the correct value of the property depending on the location and developments on it.
- Local dailies with national circulation: They help you to put a notice on the intention to change the use of land and inform the public.
Challenges associated with the change of use of land
Some of the challenges associated with the change of use of land include:
- The process can sometimes be tedious and expensive because of the many steps involved.
- Political interference: In some areas some government officials may interfere with the process due to personal interests or to just frustrate the investor.
- A lot of paperwork is involved as one has to fill the forms manually and at times the forms can get lost and misplaced.
- Lack of a single platform to submit all the required details – in most cases the applicant is required to clear with various offices in different locations.
- Many professionals are part of the process such as lawyers, surveyors, planners, etc. making it tedious.
Procedure to change use of land in Kenya
Here is the process to follow when changing the use of land in Kenya.
1. Official application to the county government
As per the Physical Planning Act, the landowner will submit the applications for change of use through a planner. The planner will fill a form known as PPA which provides details of the property’s current use and the proposed new use. The form should also be accompanied by a detailed project report.
2. Publish a public notice on the intention to change the use of land
The planner and the investor will publish a public notice regarding the proposed change of user in two daily newspapers with nationwide circulation. They invite objections from the public within not less than fourteen (14) days.
3. Submission of the application to relevant authorities
The duly signed form accompanied with the detailed project plan or report will be sent to the Director of Physical Planning. He/she will in turn share with other stakeholders such as Land Control Board. Upon review, the permission for changing the use of land will receive a yes or no. On average this process takes 1 – 7 days depending on the size of the project.
4. Payment of the required fee
Depending on the project, you will pay a fee to the government. You will obtain a receipt together with the planning report from the physical planner.
5. Receiving feedback
The county government will give the feedback in writing to the landowner. In case of permission is granted the landowner will receive a PPA 2 form. If a no is the response reasons will be given. In addition, a landowner has the right to appeal when permission is declined.
6. Change of title deeds
Successful approval of the change in land use will require the landowner to get new title deeds for the property. The applicant, the landowner, in this case, will surrender the old titles and the new deed plan to the registrar. He files them on what is known as a deed file. A successful application of change of land use means you commence development of the property within 2 years from the date of approval.