Urban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni believes the Urban and Regional Planning Act, which has replaced the Namibia Planning Advisory Board (Nampab) and the Township Board, would result in the speedy delivery of housing and land across the country.
With the new law, the planning functions at the regional council and local authority level have been decentralised.
This essentially means local authorities and regional councils will no longer have to wait for years to have new townships approved.
The two bodies were labelled as a key challenge by local and regional authorities in the establishment of new townships as they, in some instance, have to wait up to three years to get approval from them.
Uutoni, who was speaking at an occasion marking the inception meeting for the Urban and Regional Planning Board yesterday, said the new Act has now made provision for regional councils and local authorities to be declared as authorised planning authorities.
This also means they will no longer be expected to submit planning applications to the now defunct boards for recommendation and for the line minister’s approval.
“They will be processing their applications on delegated functions and this makes the land delivery process faster. Some of the local authorities have already applied for them to be declared as such,” he emphasised.
The minister was adamant the new Act would have a major impact on many Namibians, especially those living in informal settlements. “The delivery of land and ultimately the housing backlog in Namibia will also improve drastically considering the Act shortens the lengthy land delivery processes. I will be meeting with my board members periodically to assess its performance and exchange views on how best to address any challenges that the board might be faced with in the execution of its mandate,” he added.
According to Uutoni, the new board is required to spearhead the speedy implementation of the aims and objectives of the Act. “The land and housing challenges are a serious crisis in Namibia, and it is the primary responsibility of the Urban and Regional Planning Board to ensure speedy delivery of urban land,” said the minister.
Uutoni said that although the ministry enacted the Urban and Regional Planning Act to fast-track land delivery and ultimately housing in Namibia, the enactment of the new law does not guarantee solutions on spatial planning challenges.
“We need commitment and hard work by all stakeholders to achieve the objectives of the Act such as to consolidate the laws relating to urban and regional planning, provide for a legal framework for spatial planning in Namibia, provide for principles and standards of spatial planning; to establish the urban and regional planning board, to decentralise certain matters relating to spatial planning; and to provide for the preparation, approval and review of the national spatial development framework, regional structure plans and urban structure plans,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the board, chairperson Lameck Uuyepa assured the minister that the board will make sure that they will work hard to achieve its aims and objectives.