Nexus between Infrastructure Public Policy Planning, Land Speculation and Development in (Greater) Eastern Bypass, Kiambu County, Kenya
Kinuthia, Hannah Wanjiru
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Accessibility to land, government programmes and efficiency of land market shapes urban growth. Land speculation accompanies public policy planning in infrastructure development in peri-urban areas and results into increase in land subdivision, which leads to conversion of marginal agricultural land into residential and urban use. Though viewed as part of natural urban growth; land speculation has been widely criticized as leading to leapfrog development, uncontrolled and mixed land uses in peri-urban areas. Land speculative strategies are becoming widespread in Kenya with transport corridors being hotspots. The government has initiated numerous transport infrastructure developments around the country as means to spur economic growth. However, little is known on the impact of public policy planning on land speculation and the effect of speculation on land development and prices in peri-urban areas of Kenya. This study therefore examines peri-urban land speculation and its implication on land development in (Greater) Eastern Bypass area. The study uses case study design in which (Greater) Eastern Bypass area, located in the peri-urban of Nairobi and comprising one developed and two planned roads, was selected to illuminate the phenomenon of land speculation. Data on land subdivisions, transfers and enterprises between 2005 and 2018 for (Greater) Eastern Bypass area was collected along with information on planning of the bypasses. Analysis in trend of subdivisions, transfers and enterprises before, during and after public policy planning is used to measure the extent of land speculation. Key informants’ interviews were used to obtain information on planning of (Greater) Eastern Bypass while 35 questionnaires were administered to land enterprises to obtain data on land prices and role of enterprises in peri-urban land speculation. Satellite images and shape files are used to conduct land use/cover, leapfrog measure and development patterns analysis as indicators of land development. The data is statistically analysed, discussed and findings displayed in tables and figures. Findings reveal that the number of land subdivisions, transfers and enterprises increased tremendously slightly before and after public notification of (Greater) Eastern Bypass. This implies that there is significant influence of public policy planning on peri-urban land speculation along (Greater) Eastern Bypass. The analysis of land use/cover reveals that grassland is the predominant land cover, suggesting that after subdivision land is no longer used for farming but is kept idle awaiting development. Speculative subdivisions cause leapfrog development characterized by cluster and dispersed development before public infrastructure are developed. Development of basic infrastructures triggers linear and continuous development along the abutting land. While planning of Greater Eastern Bypass and Link Road triggered increase in land prices, construction of Eastern Bypass caused 25% more increase in land prices. The study concludes that there are aspects of public policy planning that trigger land speculation; the period before and slightly after public notification is characterized by increased land subdivisions and transfers. Lack of prior land use planning and enforcement of land laws incentivises land speculation and irregular subdivision, which prompts leapfrog development. The study recommends that infrastructure planning should be accompanied by land use planning to control speculative subdivision and guide peri-urban land development.