The Bulawayo City Council approved building plans worth $92 billion between January and November last year with the sprawling suburb of Cowdray Park, which hosts several housing schemes by private developers as well as the government’s Operation Hlalani Kuhle, taking the lead.
Though housing schemes in the high density suburbs have tended to take the lead, there now appears to be significant development in the low density suburbs.
The council approved plans valued at $17.4 billion in November alone, up from $13.8 billion in October. It approved plans worth only $18.6 billion for the whole of 2004, but taking the rapid decline in the Zimbabwe dollar, 2004 was definitely better than last year.
Cowdray Park dominated the development with 79 plans valued at nearly $4 billion. Ward 3, which includes the growing low density suburb of Parklands and the medium density suburb of Mahatshula, was second with plans worth $3.3 billion, followed by Ward 5 which includes the posh suburb of Hillside with plans valued at $2.6 billion.
Cowdray Park is one of the fastest growing suburbs of Bulawayo at the moment. Some 700 houses were supposed to be constructed under Phase One of the government’s Operation Hlalani Kuhle. A further 3 000 stands were allocated to private developers under Phase Two.
Though the Bulawayo City Council complained that it was being sidelined by the government in Operation Hlalani Kuhle yet it was the one that approved building plans and had the waiting list, and the government in turn warned the council not to frustrate the project, the council in fact fast-tracked the sale of stands to private developers.
According to the latest council minutes, only 1 524 stands out of the 3 000 had been submitted to the council’s executive committee for consideration by December 9. The other 1 476 had not been received and priced by the city valuer, yet the stands had been allocated to individuals on the understanding that their companies would assist them in building houses.
The council said the individuals were flocking to the council offices to pay for the stands, building plans and development levies.
If the sale of these stands were to go through normal council committees for approval this would take quite some time. The council had therefore decided to fast-track the process and sell the stands at $40 000 per square metre.