Lagos State government has warned owners of residential buildings that have been illegally converted to churches, mosques, clubhouses, lounges and bars without approval for change of use, telling them to revert to the original use of those structures or risk losing them.
The building owners have been given 30 days final notice to not only revert the buildings to their original use, but also evict their occupants, stressing that on the expiration of the final notice “the state will not give further notice of sealing, but outright removal of such non-conforming buildings at the cost of the owners.”
A statement by the state’s environmental protection agency (LASEPA), explains that the final notice follows observable distortion of the masterplan of the state, especially residential areas, by some people who, in gross disregard of the regulatory provisions of the law, have turned residential areas into club houses and worship centres, thereby constituting a nuisance to the environment.
The agency also cited security concerns of citizens and repeated complaints of non-adherence to safety and security guidelines issued to the club owners as reason for the removal notice.
Buildings conversion in the state is happening almost everywhere in the state, but mostly in the core business districts which, according to analysts, gives a sense of the high demand for commercial spaces in the state.
According to them, conversion of residential buildings to other uses such as worship centres and business premises only speaks to the commercially viable nature of the state and the dearth of enough purpose-built buildings for businesses.
“Though that, in itself, is unhealthy for the well-being of residents, building conversion which is indicative of low housing supply, reveals the opportunities investors can tap into and get good returns even in the short term,” Ezekiel Oludare, a real estate consultant, noted.
Oludare reasoned with the state government that residential buildings conversion should be done the right way if it has to happen at all, explaining that approval should be given before a building is converted from one use to another.
According to officials of the state government, not obtaining approval for converting buildings and constructing new ones is a disregard for physical planning regulations.
“Property owners and developers should prioritize obtaining planning licenses or approvals before commencing construction,” Oluyinka Olumide, the state’s Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, advised recently.
The commissioner stressed the importance of adhering to the terms of these licenses as part of collective efforts to create a more sustainable and compliant built environment, assuring that the state government was committed to enforcing regulations without exceptions with the aim of ensuring that the law benefits the overall living conditions in the state.
To be free from the embarrassment and loss of investment which many have suffered in the last few months over the demolition of their property, the state has put in place documents and requirements for those applying for building approval.