In Kenya there are 3 principle statutes that deal with Physical Planning
1. The Land Control Act
2. Physical Planning Act
3. Environmental Management and Coordination Act
Land Control Act regulates development, use and subdivision of agricultural land, it was designed to ensure that agricultural land is used and developed in such a way that good husbandry is not compromised. Consequently the process required that the regulatory institution known as the Land Control Board must be satisfied that the user of the land or the prospective user is capable of putting the land to productive agricultural use. For instance the Board may ask for what purposes the land is being purchased and whether it is being put to good use, secondly the board must ensure that land is not subdivided into sizes which are not capable of being put into agricultural use.
In practice what has happened is that the Land Control Board for various reasons has drifted away from monitoring agricultural use and has become a body for promoting family peace i.e. ensuring that the family is in agreement on whether to sell the land. They are not serving the intended purpose. The mechanism of the Land Control Land allows the Land to be used for purposes of environmental management but it has not been used thus.
The Physical Planning Act is a much more comprehensive statute that provides for physical planning and development control. The Physical Planning Act was enacted in 1996 repealing two earlier statutes the Town Planning Act (Planning in Urban areas) and the Land Planning Act (Planning in rural areas). The Physical Planning Act provides for planning in both urban and rural areas. It came into effect in November 1998 as a response primarily to the outcry relating to the excision in Karura Forest. Nevertheless it is now in effect. Institutionally the Physical Planning Act places the functions of Physical Planning in the Office of the Director of Physical Planning, administratively the director of physical planning is an officer in the ministry of lands. The Act states that the Director of Physical Planning is the chief government advisor on all matters related to physical planning and in that capacity he shall formulate physical development policies prepare physical development plans, advise the Commissioner of Lands on the alienation of government lands, advise the Commissioner of Lands and Local authorities on the most appropriate use of land and require local authorities to ensure the proper execution of physical development control. The Act establishes committees known as physical planning liaison committees at National, provincial and district levels. The function of these committees is to act as an appeal mechanism from the decisions of the Director of Physical Planning. The membership of these committees is comprised of permanent secretary as the chair, the Director as the secretary … it is top heavy full of government people.
The Act provides for three kinds of physical planning
1. Regional Physical Development Plan
2. Local Physical Development Plan
3. A special area physical development plan.
The regional physical development plan is prepared by the director with reference to any land with the area of authority of a county council for purposes of improving the land and providing for the proper physical development of such land. It is also designed to secure provision for transport, public purpose, utilities and services, commercial, industrial, residential and recreational areas and to make provision for the use of land for building and other purposes. A regional physical development plan is prepared for a rural area. The purpose of the plan is to provide for proper physical development and also to provide for commerce transport etc.
A local physical development plan is prepared with respect to land within the area of the city, municipal, urban or Town Council or any trading or market centre.
Under Section 23 the Director may declare an area with unique development potential or problems as a special planning area. The declaration of a special planning area enables the preparation of a physical development plan irrespective of whether such an area lies within the area of a local authority.