There is a high level of home to hotel conversion in Nigeria especially in Lagos. Our focus will be on Lagos. Lagos is the biggest city in Nigeria and the population is on the increase daily coupled with the high rate of foreign and local investors trooping in daily and this calls for high production on the part of the hospitality industry.
Investors in hospitality development have used this opportunity to turn homes to hotel for quick gains which in turn is against the Lagos State Urban Renewal agency (LASURA). Places such as Agege, Isolo and Oshodi residential buildings are being converted to hotels thereby decreasing the availability of residential buildings and creating high demand for housing.
Lagos State happens to contribute to the 66% of the nation’s housing deficit. Millions of its inhabitants live in slums and the Lagos State Urban Renewal Agency is saddled with the responsibility of implementing the state policy on Urban Renewal and Upgrading of slums in the state which is to facilitate the process of the living conditions of people in the state.
Decade ago, hospitality (hotel) has been restricted to places like Victoria Island, Ikeja and it’s environ but recently because of the boom and gain of the market, Investors has now expanded their business to other areas mostly the mainland and it’s environs. As the state is experiencing industrialization and commercialization, there is a growing need for hospitality and more hotels are built even homes are now converted to hotels which is against the Urban Renewal policy.
During the administration of Baba Fashola, there was a major urban renewal that went into a partnership with Planet Projects through a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model to remodel Oshodi into a transport hub. Some investors have now taken advantage of it to provide hospitality that is cheap (cheap hotels) that is converting old buildings (which provides greater returns) to hotel in other to meet the needs of those who can’t afford expensive hotels and this is not in sync with the Urban Renewal policy.
The General Manager of Lagos State Urban Renewal Agency (LASURA) Lateef Sholebo, stressed that the policy is aimed at upgrading or redeveloping a site and not converting old buildings to hotels, he also said that most of the conversions are done without approval as they are often done and presented for approval after completion. They prefer to build first before obtaining approval which is not in sync with the Urban renewal regulations. Some investors go as far as deploying political and social influence to obtain approval to beat the Urban renewal regulations. And this has affected properties and disturbed planning codes, non compliance with existing car park regulations, thereby contributing to traffic congestion.
There are regulations set up by the Lagos State Physical Planning and Development which includes:
Two car parking space for every three hotels/guest rooms in residential zones
A car park per 60 square meters in a commercial building
A residential building require a minimum of two car parks for a unit/flat
But in reality this measures doesn’t seems to work anymore because most hotels lack parking space and clients have to park their cars outside the building leading to high rate of insecurity, traffic congestion and breaking the rules of the LASURA policy. According to the President, Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON) Mr. Idris Salako, what the law says is not walking in tandem with the physical manifestations of the specifications.
The theory of Urban renewal regulations was adopted according to the Western world whereby a certain location will be earmarked for physical development for the residents and that such development will not pass the delineated boundary. Outside the boundary, amenities such as school, parks, hospitals can be built. Lagos has over three million deficit in housing and turning of old residential buildings to hotels is not the right thing to do rather building of new ones should be encouraged.
The General manager of LASURA, Lateef Sholebo, says that they are trying to use the Public-Private-Partnership to create an incentive for private people to invest with the government to develop Adeniji Adele estates (which has been having challenges of constant flooding at the slightest rainfall) and that is also the strategy for developing most of the slums in Lagos.
Due to the rapid growth in the population of Lagos State, there is shortage of land and the General manager of LASURA has come up with the strategy of solving the problem of land shortage through the development of high-rise building, according to him ‘we need to go vertical” by adopting smart technology like in the Western world. In Dubai high-rise building are been adopted and it’s very beneficial and economical in regards to land deficit and over population in a particular location. Besides, it gives the country a modern design which is a sure sign of development and attraction. To this end, Lagos is trying to adopt the concept of Smart City to make things more efficient and functional.
This high rise buildings can be used as residential, office building, other multi purpose such hotel, retail, gym, health center, car park, internal mall and so on. The intention is to bring work closer to the Lagosians homes and vice-versa and also to reduce the travel between work and home of the Lagosians. ‘Challenges of the high rise buildings will be curtailed as we are building them” Lateef Sholebo added.
According to Lateef Sholebo, this development will not take place over-night and will cost a lot of money because of the limited land space and the ever growing population in the state. When asked when the Adeniji Adele estates will be rescued from its challenges, he said that development planning is not something you do overnight and that such development takes time. It years to draft out a workable plan, get professionals and experienced people in the field, organized resources, get valuable manpower and begin development which can take a long time and this amount of time is not specific.