According to the British orbiter, where natives land owners exist they could not interfere with the existing land tenure systems in the British colonies but where there were no such owners land was regarded as vacant. This is what happened in Kenya where the land was communally owned and there was no specific land owner.
The first formal land ownership and control policy to take action in Kenya was the Land Acquisition act of 1894 which provided for the compulsory land acquisition for the construction of the railway and a ten mile zone each side of the railway for the establishment of government buildings and other purposes, the Kenyan version of the act provided for resale of the land by the holding authority who at this moment was the commissioner a representative of the queen. The commissioner would release the land on leasehold or freehold. The commissioner could offer certificates of occupancy lasting 21 years and could be renewed for 21 years.in 1898 the lease hold term was extended to 99 years. These certificates were licenses to use land and those holding the land could not sell it.
These frameworks marked Kenya’s initial stages to planning and resource allocation and use since land was the only major resource and factor of production.
The Crown Land Ordnance of 1902
This stated that all land belongs to the crown and by all land it included all area that covered the Kenyan colony which is currently the territorial Kenya. This legal instrument defined Crown land to include Land which was in occupation of the natives and that which was reserved for the use and support of the native tribes. Through this definition, natives were rendered mere tenants because all land belonged to the Crown. There was no more community land. Customary laws continued to be applied but by virtue of the Repugnancy clause, they were subordinate to the British Law. This meant that inconsistent customary laws were void and rights were to be exercised at the mercy of the Crown. The only rights that were accorded to the natives were occupancy rights which were to be exercised with close reference to the British law lest they lost such rights.
The Government Lands Act
Enacted in 1915 to replace the Crown Lands Ordinance (1902) with an objective to regulate forms of disposal of Government Land. It prescribed a system of administration and registration of government land, remedies to instances of defects arising out of the earlier registration under cap 285 and introduced a fair system to issue and register deeds. There was a provision that all past documents relating to government land were to be applied in accordance with this instrument. The government had absolute rights over un-alienated land as well as control over terms and agreements in relation to land. The head of government was given (discretionary) powers to allocate land, this discrete power led to the abuse of land ownership and the currently existing land ownership injustices in the country.
Devonshire White Paper, 1923
Although the Devonshire white paper claimed that African country belonging to the Africans and their rights were paramount, this paper was discriminatory to Africans in that it still put white settlers on the most productive region of the Kenyan highlands.
This was a colonial agricultural policy to restructure land ownership in African areas. Cash crops had been introduced in the colony and the plan was to expand farming through improved infrastructure, market, weather forecast, and of course providing secure land tenure methods. Progressive African farmers were given an opportunity to own land and grow cash crops. This plan encouraged individualization of tenure a European like land ownership system where there was a permanent land ownership system unlike the traditional communal land ownership. Areas were set aside for agricultural land use and this led to increased agricultural production and in turn economic development.
The Swynnerton plan focused development on agricultural productive areas and neglected nonproductive areas such as the Arid and semi-arid areas and further marginalization an injustice that spread into the 21st century until the introduction of the devolved system of governance.
Implementation of this plan followed a number of stages. The first stage was adjudication; this made Customary Land Law obsolete and ascertained individual or group rights amounting to ownership. Consolidation and enclosure was done to thousands of fragmented land. All high quality land was surveyed and enclosed as well. The final stage was registration of land which was to show the interests in land that the owner had and title deeds were issued. At this point, land was converted into a trade item and could be sold. The plan was to detach people with their traditions and their traditional ways of farming. This was possible because the natives were allowed to sell their land, go into the city, and later buy it back if they decided to go back. An assumption was that those who went into the city and detached themselves from traditional systems of farming could learn modern methods of farming and increase their levels of production.
The consolidation and enclosure also helped ensure that farming was done at a large scale to help ensure mass production and sustainability of the farming methods.
The Swynnerton plan’s objectives were:
To address African land problems by introducing and reforming land tenure.
Consolidate fragmented land holdings and increase their productivity.
Intensify and develop African agriculture.
Provide access to credit through the use of the land titles.
Remove restrictions to grow cash crops for export.
The Nairobi city plan
THE 1898 MASTERPLAN was the first plan that laid out Nairobi as a town, complete with a railway depot, with the main feature being the railway station and railway line. It is said that this plan has a striking resemblance to the town layout of today’s Nairobi Central Business District.
The 1926 Plan for a settler capital expanded the city by 77km to accommodate the growing population. It capitalized on the city’s strategic position as a vibrant hub of the Kenya railway line.
The second Master Plan was drawn up in 1948, the main aim being to make Nairobi an attractive industrial town. In 1945, competent planning group led by Professor Thornton White was founded which later prepared a master plan for Nairobi outlining the physical planning guidelines for Nairobi for functional arrangement (Maleche, 2004). In 1950, Nairobi was accorded the city status, but there were no major changes. The Nairobi structure plan, just like other structure plans was heavily reliant on the professionals and bureaucratic imaginations which was unpopular with the perceptions and feelings of the locals who happened to be many in the city during this period of structure plan. Though it is important to state that this was the first major attempt to create some order in Nairobi, it encouraged segregation of Nairobi residential neighborhoods to different racial units which led to some sort of social, geographic and economic stratification of Nairobi.
The government has over the years come up with policies and strategies in different sessional papers to guide and inform planning in the country. The land planning act (cap 303) of 1968 placed local authorities as an interim authority for different planning body under the ministry which is the control authority, the fact that this act included the local authorities in the planning process introduced a level of subsidiarity though not fully since there was minimum or no public participation at all.
The physical planning act of 1998 was introduced to replace the land planning act of 1968,the physical planning is a fairly inclusive policy that ensures that planning both urban and regional is controlled at the ground(grassroots).through the introduction of the liaison committees at the municipal levels and the approval of planning strategies made the planning process and approvals easy and inclusive.
The 2010 constitution and the county governments act 2012 put urban and regional planning at the base of the people and emphasized on the involvement of the people through the public participation bill of 2016.the involvement of people in the planning process creates a sense of ownership of development strategies put forward for the development of the society.
The constitution has tasked all county governments with a mandate to develop integrated county development plans which are rooted with the involvement of the people.
Under the county governments act, the principles guiding planning and development include:
Integrate national values in all processes and concepts.
Protect the right to self-fulfillment within the county communities and with responsibility to future generations.
Protect and integrate rights and interest of minorities and marginalized groups and communities.
Protect and develop natural resources in a manner that aligns national and county government’s policies.
Align county financial and institutional resources to agreed policy objectives and programmes.
Engender effective resource mobilization for sustainable development.
Promote the pursuit of equity in resource allocation within the county.
Provide a platform for unifying planning, budgeting, financing, programme implementation and performance review.
Serve as a basis for engagement between county government and the citizenry, other stakeholders and interest groups.
The principles guiding planning under the county governments act (2012) help ensure holistic and all inclusive planning strategies involving the people and thus creating a sense of ownership to the Kenyan citizens.
Creation of regional development blocs has also created an integration of different regions into singular economic blocs and thus a uniformity of development.
Devolved levels of planning has helped ensure that the marginalized communities a fair share of development and support from the national government. This has ensured that areas that would have been underdeveloped under different scenarios.
Land use planning ensures that different localities focus on what they are fit for. This creates a sense of belonging to the inhabitants of that region in that their practices are enhanced. Good example is the encouragement of agricultural land uses and the provision of necessary infrastructure and capacity building to ensure maximum output.