Conversion of Residential Units to Commercial Spaces in Accra, Ghana: A Policy Dilemma
International Planning Studies
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Over the past three decades, Ghana's economy has been subjected to tremendous macroeconomic reform programmes. The reforms in the national economic system were reflected almost immediately on the urban landscape. One such change is widespread land-use conversion, mainly from residential to commercial spaces. This study examines the major forces driving conversion, processes involved in conversion, conflicts with existing land uses, and their impact on the urban-built environment and the livelihood of actors involved. The study involves 39 in-depth interviews with key informants, with strategic reports and documents used to contextualize interview results. The findings indicate that the conversion of residential to commercial units is widespread, and that it is the result of several factors, including the desire to improve economic opportunities in light of growing uncertainty, the mismatch between demand and supply for retail spaces, infrastructural development and redevelopment, and interest in expanding population and entrepreneurial activities. The conversion process is occurring informally, and many businesses that operate in the converted properties are small scale. Findings indicate planning implications associated with the conversion process and offer suggestions to address them.