The City of Mutare has applied to the central government for land to expand after running out of residential stands.
Mutare mayor Blessing Tandi said the city had run out of space for new suburbs. The city has a geographical location measuring 16 700 ha against a fast growing urban population of over 189 000 residents, according to the 2012 census.
The city has exhausted its in-fills and other open spaces under its land banks to clear a bloated housing waiting list.
Tandi said they had since applied to the central government for land extension in the northern and western side of the city. “Mutare is one of the most disadvantaged cities. It is mountain-locked and
has nowhere to expand to,” he said.
“We have applied for land beyond the mountainous terrain in the northern and western side, which we plan to allocate as residential stands to deal with our housing backlog once it’s approved by the Ministry of Local Government,” he said. The development comes at a time when the city has nearly 50 000 residents on its housing waiting list, according to statistics obtained from the housing services
Though the records indicate a 28,57% drop from the 70 000 home seekers that were on the housing waiting list in 2016, there is still a high demand for residential stands.
Most residents are looking beyond the city with peri-urban areas such as Mutasa, Vumba and Chigodora being the most targeted.
Tandi indicated that the proposed city expansion would stretch from Mutare River towards Odzi in the northern part of Mutare and beyond Zimunya in the western part of the city.
The proposal that is before the central government follows similar proposals that were unsuccessfully tabled in the past.
In 2014, the city fathers who declared land bankruptcy made frantic efforts to negotiate for a land swap deal with the government.
The deal would have seen the local authority cede Meikles Park in exchange for unprocessed State land measuring 188 000 ha from the government, stretching from Dangamvura Link Road to Fern Valley Turn along Chimanimani Road.
However, the deal was stalled by endless court battles over the ownership of Meikles Park.
During the same year, the city engaged private planners ARUP, which advised the local authority to remodel under the multi-noddle approach that is cost effective.
The authorities then contemplated the use of one of the three possible models, which included wild-west expansion and western and northern expansion.
ARUP advised that the multi-noddle approach requires the construction of satellite shopping centres dotted in various parts of the city that would reduce congestion in the Central Business District (CBD).
It will further provide services delivery and employment creation in respective residential areas.
“The multi-noddle approach reduces travelling time from point A to point B. In a city centre you have to travel long distances to get the services you need but when you get a multi-noddle approach you are close to some of the services you need.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean all the services will be available to you, for an example the government offices, they may be in the centre so you still have to go to the centre but for the daily kind of things, you find them in your local neighbourhood shop or your district shop,” ARUP advised then.
ARUP indicated that the current model of cities in Zimbabwe is quite spread-out making it expensive to build roads to link residential areas and the CBD.