Ahmednasir Abdullahi Advocates LLP



As a property developer, you may have had to seek development permission for your projects. The process is not only technical but also cumbersome if not handled professionally and diligently in line with the dictates of the Physical and Land Use Planning Act, 2019. Oftentimes, developers find themselves in a quagmire when they go about development permissions without adhering to the legal requirements. As lawyers, we interact with such disputes and over the years, we have built a wealth of knowledge in this field.

Applications for subdivision, amalgamation, change of user, extension of user, extension of lease, and approval of building plans will still require development permission to be issued by the relevant county government. The procedure of processing development applications has been provided for in the act.

This article focuses on the notorious change of user applications that have often remained a thorn in every developer’s flesh. Change of user applications are the most litigated of all the development applications due to their intrinsic nature of changing the zoned user of a certain area. Developers often find themselves at loggerheads with resident associations regarding such applications.

Essentially, change of user refers to the process of changing the current permitted use of land from one use to another for example, changing the use of land from residential, this process takes time and involves several professionals.

The Act places the burden of managing development applications on the County Governments. Therefore, all such applications are tendered to the respective County Government’s Physical Planning Department for consideration and approval. Change of use applications are required to be made through a registered Physical Planner who will fill in the PPA 1 form on behalf of the developer and submit the same together with a planning brief. This brief will offer explanations on why the change of use is necessary in the first place and confirm that it will not have any adverse effects on the surrounding area.

Upon submission of an application for change of use, the developer is required to place an advertisement in a newspaper of nationwide circulation so as to notify the public and elicit any objections to the proposed change of user within 14 days. In addition to the advertisement, a site notice will also be placed on the site indicating intention to change its use.

Once the notice period lapses, the development application together with any objection received are considered and decision made by the County Executive Committee Member in charge of land and physical planning. If the County Executive Committee Member is inclined to approve the development application, a PPA2 form is issued signifying the approval.

It is noteworthy to mention that where an applicant for a development permission does not receive a written response within 60 days of the application, the development permission is deemed to have been given in line with section 58(6) of the Act.

Once a development permission is issued, any person aggrieved by such issuance is entitled to appeal the decision by filing an appeal to the Physical Planning Liaison Committee within 14 days of the decision. Conversely, in the event of refusal to grant the development permission, the County Government is required to inform the Applicant in writing, of the grounds of its refusal and the Applicant is at liberty to appeal against the decision, to the Liaison Committee. The Liaison Committee is by law required to hear the appeal and make a determination within 14 days. Appeals against the decision of the liaison committee lie to the Environment and Land Court.

Tap into our wealth of knowledge in this field and let us help you navigate the terrains of zoning laws.