IRREGULAR APPROVAL?

Ex-speaker Magelo fights city over Kileleshwa building

15-floor building under construction in upmarket estate opposed by residents

In Summary

• Magelo and residents say zoning violated, only four storeys allowed not a  15-story residential building spoiling the low-rise upmarket area.

• Planning officer Justus Gathenge denies any wrongdoing. 

Ex Nairobi speaker Alex Magelo.
Ex Nairobi speaker Alex Magelo.
Image: FILE

Former Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Alex Magelo is embroiled in a fight with City Hall over the construction of a multi-billion residential apartment building in Kileleshwa.

Magelo and the residents of Kuria Close and Othaya Road in the upmarket area accuse the county officials of approving construction of the 15-floor building by real estate company Detiland Ltd in violation of the area zoning plan among other key considerations.

They argue that the county planning technical committee okayed the project despite the current zoning policy of the high-end area allowing only up to four floors to protect the low-density residential houses in the area, mostly bungalows and maisonettes.

The ex-speaker has blamed county planning chief officer Justus Gathenge whose office is mandated with approval of constructions in the city. Gathenge also serves as the acting county secretary.

In a letter to City Hall protesting approval of the structure, Magelo says the developer is building the house along Othaya Road in Kileleshwa on a 0.76 acres and that the excavation is being done beacon to beacon.

“Why did the county planning committee give Detiland Ltd approval to build apartments on a plot without a sewer connection, let alone a 15-storey one?” Magelo asked in the letter to dated February 28 to immediate former county secretary Leboo Morintat.

But Gathenge denied any wrongdoing, saying that the technical committee approved the building after it met all necessary conditions.

“I don’t approve buildings. It is done by the committee and I believe the same rules we follow are the same ones that applied in this case,” Gathenge told the Star on the phone.

In another letter dated February 6, Leboo wrote to the National Environment Management Authority saying the building was approved subject to approved by Nema.

In the letter, Leboo raised concerns that the residents had objected to the project and called for its scaling down after the recent heavy rains flooded the area and damaged adjacent properties.

"That the at the adverse effect of noise pollution, air pollution, effluent discharge by workers and the increased heavy traffic during construction will not be capable of being mitigated adequately,” reads the letter.

Nema is yet to respond. The Star could not reach the developer for comment.

But Magelo and the residents say the approval that was issued on March 4 last year was irregular and accused the county of ignoring the concerns of the residents. He accuses the county of misleading Nema into approving the construction.

“Can the county show evidence that they agreed for Detiland Ltd to excavate the plot beacon to beacon and waive the required building line and explain why there was no consideration for the owners of the neighbouring plot?” he asked.

Edited by Henry Makori