ANALYSIS OF TECHNICAL SKILLS OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STAFF IN URBAN LAND USE PLANNING UNITS IN CENTRAL REGION, KENYA
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Lack of adequate infrastructure, poor housing amenities, urban sprawl, informal settlements, congestion of both human and vehicular traffic are all manifestation of poor land use planning. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of institutional technical skills capacity within the Local authorities in application of urban land use planning as process to controlling the development with the jurisdiction. The study also aimed at identifying gaps in the process of urban land use planning procedures and approval in local authorities, staffing levels and capacity of staff handling approvals, role of other government agencies in approval procedure and follow up procedures by local authority staff after approval. Employing a descriptive cross sectional design, the study targeted all the 24 local authorities in the central region. Stratified random sampling provided a sample of 8 local authorities. Data was collected from sampled respondents using a semi-structured questionnaire. Data was analyzed with the help of SPSS version 20 for windows. On the level of technical skills of the staff of the local authorities in the study, the study found that Majority (63%) of the town planners/engineers had a bachelor‟s degree with the rest (37%) having gone further and attained a master‟s degree. Over half of them had over 10 years of experience. On the approval procedures in urban land use planning, the study found that all the sampled local authority councils kept records of land use applications. The contents of the development application forms were similar with all the councils requiring the name of the applicant, his/her address, date of application, development details and plot number. All the sampled LAs employed inter-departmental collaboration in the procedures of urban planning approval. On the influence of other government agencies, the findings revealed that all the sampled LAs involved other government agencies as pertains to development applications. Public health (100%) was the most involved agency by the local authorities in the approval process of development applications. Delay in communication (100%) was the most common problem experienced by local authority planners in involving other government agencies. On follow-up procedures, all the councils in the study confirmed that they followed up on approved applications. The urban planner (75%) was the in many cases the officer charged with inspection of the developments. Uncooperative developers (88%) was the major challenge mentioned by the respondents which was encountered the officers in inspection and follow up of projects. The researcher concluded that of all the variables under investigation, technical capacity of the staff in local authorities was the most significant since its effects were felt on all other sectors such as follow up procedures. The researcher recommended that that the Local authorities employ more personnel in the urban land use and planning department to improve on effectiveness. Also Available staff should be subjected to on-job trainings to improve on their skills in order to improve their output.