Mount Pleasant residents are up in arms about a new block of flats under construction in the open space on the corner of Woodgate and Garlands Ride.
Private developers Lamegate Investments are constructing a three-storey building which will have 40 flats, using funding from Turkish investors. However, several residents in the area have complained to Harare News saying that developers did not follow the correct legal procedures, and that the project does not suit the low density suburban neighbourhood.
“We were shocked when we spoke to labourers who said that that they were constructing flats. We initially thought these were penthouses,” said one resident, who requested anonymity.
The development is taking place amidst spacious and leafy properties in a peaceful neighbourhood, raising concern that a block of flats will change the face of the area.
One resident of Woodgate said that they had not been given notice of the development, and highlighted that high rise buildings were out of place in the area.
“I think flats are way out of the usual town plan for Mount Pleasant, as these will increase the density of the area. The land that is normally occupied by one family will now accommodate 41 families. Additionally neighbours will have to deal with flat occupants peeping into their yards, as it is an invasive height,” said another resident who also refused to be named.
One of the contractors, who declined to be identified or give detailed information, acknowledged that the company had received some resistance from residents in the area who wanted to stop the construction.
“Some residents complained about our project when we started because they wanted the area we are building on to remain as an open space. Fortunately, we managed to get help from other influential people and we are now progressing but, we are still trying to create a good relationship with the surrounding neighbours,” he said.
The councillor for the area is the Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni. He referred Harare News to the District Officer, Mr Jumburu, who failed to respond to questions about the development at the time of going to press.
Council Spokesperson, Michael Chideme was available however, and said that the project file for the construction of the flats was in order. Chideme affirmed that the developers had followed all the requirements, from stakeholder engagement, to planning permissions, and licensing.
“Residents should not be surprised about high-rise buildings in residential areas, because Harare is going through a densification process. This means we are building cluster homes or going upwards to maximise land use, because land is a finite resource,” said Chideme.
Chideme explained that densification had many advantages such as the sharing of services such as transport, sewer systems, and power supply. “Area plans can be changed at any time to suit the times, and the practice of building cluster homes is now widespread in the city.”
The recent spike in the building of suburban cluster housing complexes has raised the ire of many communities who feel that services such as refuse collection, water, and sewerage, are already inadequate and that a spike in population will be crippling and lead to chaos.