Sound environmental planning is in the interest of the society and as such those whose neighborhoods are being planned must be carried along through intensive participation as provided for in the existing environmental planning legislations. In the opinion of the general public, this is not seen to be entirely the case in Lagos State. Therefore, this paper is a study into existing planning legislations in Lagos State with emphasis on the opportunities provided for citizen participation. The paper attempts a critic of environmental planning approaches between and among the Town Planning Authority and land owning families in Alimosho Local Government Council Area of Lagos State to date. In-depth interviews were carried out between and among various built environment professionals and six land owning families in the study area. The study shows that land-owning families are only interested in how much they can realize from sale of plots of land as against establishing sustainable neighbourhoods. Land speculators still carry out estate layouts with impunity without complying with approvals earlier obtained from the Town Planning Authority as it affects the road width, plot sizes, etc. The study suggests the need to introduce environmental awareness education as early as nursery school to undergraduate levels in college. This is to ensure early awareness that could lead to active participation of the youth as they grow up to become community leaders, industrialists, academia, and other interest groups.
Keywords: Neighborhood; Citizen Participation; Estate Surveyors; Environmental Planning
Sound environmental planning is generally in the interest of the society. For this reason, those whose neighborhoods are being planned must be carried along through intensive participation, as provided for in the existing environmental planning legislations. In the opinion of the general public, this is not seen to be entirely the case in Lagos State. Nigerians who reside within cities are faced with inter-related problems of unguided human settlements that lead automatically to an unsustainable environment. There is an urgent need to take steps that will ameliorate the existing environmental challenges. The vision of estate surveyors and valuers is to be an agent of excellence in real estate matters. To achieve this dream, the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers have consistently been maintaining a collective dialogue with all stakeholders in the built environment in the hope of understanding and responding to societal housing needs in a timely fashion.
As a follow up to this vision, the nature of the challenges facing residents in various neighborhoods and how such challenges can be handled to make such neighborhoods sustainable and prevent the occurrence of such challenges in emerging neighborhoods will be examined. The need for this approach is based on a feeling that existing physical planning framework gives little attention to the citizens’ contributions to how the cities should be modeled from an inception before developmental projects that are financed either by individuals or by corporate bodies. Observations, over the years, point to professional town planners being more under the influence of the ruling political elites as against other professionals in the built environment. This is very absurd, bearing in mind complexities and ambiguities surrounding the mechanisms required for sustaining cities. With globalization and the high rate of urbanization, city expansion becomes more difficult to either understand, fund, or implement development control mechanisms to the satisfaction of all stakeholders concerned.
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