Urbanisation and changing patterns of urban land use in Ghana: policy and planning implications for residential land use in Kumasi.

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Urbanisation is increasing in almost all countries, especially third world countries. This is creating several associated problems. In Ghana rapid urbanisation has contributed to slum development, congestion, mass unemployment and pressure on available facilities. Other problems include environmental degradation, poor housing and rising crime rates (National Development Planning Commission, 2008). The study therefore sought to investigate the effects of urbanisation on changing patterns of land use with special reference to residential land use. In this regard, the case study design was adopted since it helps to describe the units. This design also provides an opportunity for the researcher to gain insight into urbanisation and land use patterns. Therefore, the use of this case study design aims at a comprehensive understanding of the spatial development of Kumasi. The variables in this respect are land use structure and development patterns, changing housing uses and types, changing rent charges, access to vacant land, regularization of physical development and planning interventions for combating the negative effects of urbanisation on urban land use. The data collection methods used in this study include the use of interviews to solicit views from house owners and owners of economic activities in the study area and personal observation of traffic conditions and parking. The institutions consulted during the data gathering process were Town and Country Planning, Urban Roads, Building Inspectorate Division and Waste Management Department. Detailed interviews were also carried out with Ghana Water Company and Electricity Company of Ghana. The study revealed that the pattern of development in the study area is redevelopment of housing. The study area has become a complete built up area with few reserves or vacant land for future development. Also, the urbanisation process is leading to changes in building types from compound houses to multi-storey buildings and residential uses to commercial uses. The layout of this area has been transformed significantly with the physical structure defined mainly by commercial activity. This led to the design or plan being thrown out of gear since development in the area took its ‘own course’. The study also revealed that the area has been rezoned as residential-commercial due to the increasing rate of commercial activity. Also, due to changes in land use it is becoming more difficult to provide public services in the area. For instance, people build shops and do not leave reservations for supply lines for water provision. It is also difficult getting right-off-ways for substations and transmission of high voltage power. Also, people encroach on land reserved for waste management. The change in land use in the study area from purely residential to commercial and services has also brought about human and vehicular traffic congestion. From the foregoing, it is recommended that necessary steps are taken by the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly to reverse the negative impacts of rapid urbanisation on land use, especially in the city of Kumasi. In this case, The Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly must ensure that developers comply with land use regulations as much as possible. Also, bye laws should be enacted to compel companies buying an existing building, either for use or redevelopment, to use it for residential-commercial and not completely commercial. This would be in line with the directive of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly’s declaration of residential-commercial. It is recommended also that more development experts be trained and equipped with the needed logistics to enhance development control. The government should also ensure that its spatial policies favour rural areas to limit the influx of people into the city which normally exert much pressure on land uses in the Central Business District.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Development Policy and Planning on February.