Byo residents shun residential flats

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) says there is a low uptake of land for the development of flats with most land developers claiming residents in the city prefer houses to flats.

This comes at a time when the local authority is saddled with an ever-growing housing list and a huge demand for accommodation due to the population boom in the city.

Speaking at a social dialogue on affordable residential stands and housing in Bulawayo, Wednesday, organised by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) in conjunction with Habakkuk Trust and National University of Science and Technology (NUST), BCC Assistant Director of Housing, Thabani Ncube said demand for housing in the city is on the increase.

“According to the City master plan report, the house waiting list was at 115 000 people but the number has since increased to 121 000 people as we speak,” said Ncube.

“In Bulawayo, there is a land shortage but we have land reserved around the city where we can build houses. We have sites which were reserved for flats in Nkulumane, Nketa and Mganwini and we have put these under tenders but no developer is interested in them,” said Ncube.

He said reports from developers indicate that people do not want to stay in flats.

“Developers usually conduct surveys and ask people whether they want to stay in flats or not and results have indicated that no one is interested in staying in flats as people say they are not birds who can stay upstairs.

“These are some of the views that we get from other people, but as Bulawayo, we have land in the outskirts of the City and we know very well our boundaries,” said Ncube.

“We have about 3 000 stands in the remainder of Mganwini with no takers, developing a flat is usually costly than developing a house. Even in some shopping spaces there are no takers but when we look at flats in the Central Business Centres (CBD)  they are crowded.”

However, a researcher at NUST, Ntobeko Ndlovu said the local authority should adopt state of the art designs for flats so that they can attract people.

“Flats will be an introduction of social housing and it will reduce the number of people on the housing waiting list,” said Ndlovu.

“I have seen in other countries, flats when designed very well especially for medium density areas to major City areas, you will get demand from people.”

He said the local authority should adopt ideas from the neighboring countries.

“If you go to South Africa  and see the kinds of flats, so if you ask people about flats at times people will be just seeing old designs of flats in the country, definitely they will tell you that they do not want those flats so I think there is need to come up with designs and then you will see that there is going to be an uptake,” said Ndlovu.

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