Belvedere park facelift above board

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

Belvedere park facelift above board 
Samuel Nyabeze

Herald Reporter

The allocation of land for a small recreational park in Belvedere suburb of Harare was aboveboard with works to spruce it up set to start soon, contrary to reports that it was illegal.

Initial reports suggested that the council lease agreement for a recreational facility on the remainder of stand 40668 Salisbury Township lands, Belvedere Township, between Cardiff Avenue and Denbigh Avenue, had expired.

But further investigations revealed that there is a valid lease agreement for the purpose of recreational activities only.

According to a lease agreement issued in 2022 to private developer Ms Roshan Ismail, it is set to expire in 2027, giving her powers to carry out recreational developments.

Before leasing the municipal land, due process was followed where the lessee flighted an advertisement in the press and no objections were received.

Ms Ismail also has a valid environmental impact assessment certificate.

According to the lease, the land can only be used for recreational purposes.

“The piece of land is zoned public open space and recreational use by the operative showgrounds local development plan number 42.

“The lessee shall use the premises for recreational purposes only and any other purposes incidental thereto and for no other purposes without the prior written consent of the lessor,’’ reads part of the lease.

Ms Ismail also dismissed as hogwash reports that she bribed council officials to get the lease.

Both the former Belvedere city councillor and city planner Samuel Nyabeze have already denied having any links with Ms Ismail.

City Planner Mr Nyabeze said the lease was allocated only for the purposes of recreational use and there was no change of use happening in Belvedere.

“In the event that we come up with a proposal for change of use for public open space from recreational to commercial due processes will be done. It is not something which is to be done secretly or Nicodemously,” he said.

Mr Nyabeze said the due processes involve submitting such an application to the council’s public works committee which if satisfied would submit its recommendation to full council which if it also endorsed the change then would submit that to the Minister of Local Government and Public Works for final approval.

He said the minister had to flight an advertisement and also consult the immediate neighbours in Belvedere.

“They will be given the chance to participate in the event that the change of use is proposed. At present we have got no such proposals, but in the event that it happens the neighbours will be given an opportunity to object like they are doing,” he said.

Ms Roshan Ismail said she was working on developing the land.

“I was allocated the land by council for recreational purposes only. I’m currently working on fencing it and putting in a playground. I have raised enough funds to transform it into a state-of- the-art recreational centre,’’ she said

Over the years, Belvedere park had become an eyesore for the community, with people using it for dumping purposes. The park had also become a haven for criminals.