Land is required for various uses in both the urban and rural areas of all society. It is a major factor of production and a vital element in the socio-economic development of any country or society (FMH&UD, 2006). Thus, as nations grew in size and rural areas become urban centres and urban centres become large metropolitan areas, there is always increased competition as well as demand for land for different purposes. This requires adequate planning and control to ensure harmonious development and functional efficiency of these uses and settlements. To achieve this fundamental and acceptable activity, layouts of various land uses such as residential, commercial. Industrial, open spaces and recreation, circulation and institutional uses among others are undertaken to standardize and control physical developments and ensure harmonious growth. To ensure adequate provision of these uses and meet the needs of users of urban facilities and services land allocation and space standards are specified in the literature. Furthermore, as the population of the world becomes more urbanized and cities grow, urban planning becomes more critical (Smith and Engel, 2006). According to Oyesiku (1997), the forms and patterns of distribution of structures in general to promote the good health, accessibility, convenience and harmonious land use in environment are a function, to a considerable extent, of the rights and methods of dealing with land.
Thus, effective urban land control and management particularly in areas with rapid urban sprawl such as Nigeria is crucial to tackling growing land use problems such as slum formation, rising costs of land, accessibility to urban land for land housing, incompatible use, flooding, overcrowding and congestion among others for the purpose of achieving sustainable city development and ensure the safety and health of the people. Thus, great attention has been paid by researchers, professionals and decision makers to the urban land planning and management problems and the design of policies to combat it. In Nigeria, a number of policies that impinge on urban land management has been articulated and implemented. These include the Land use Act of 1978, urban Development Policy of 1992, Urban and Regional Planning Act 1992 as well as the Housing and urban development policy of 2002. Similarly, land use planning and control measures have been introduced to improve urban land use planning and urban development. Despite the existence of these laws and policies, urban land use management problems still persist in Nigeria. Consequently, there is need for a better understanding of the problems and also to articulate how to improve the existing ineffective land use planning and control methods in the city.
It is against the above background that this article seeks to examine land use management practices in Akure, Nigeria with a view to determining its effectiveness as well as suggests feasible solutions to improve it.
2. Conceptual Framework and Relevant Literature
A convenient starting point for discussing land polices, land use management systems and sustainable development is to attempt the definition of the essential concepts. Land has been defined by Lloyd (1962), and the Concise Oxford Dictionary. as a delineable area encompassing all attributes of the biosphere immediately above or below the earth's terrestrial surface, including the soil, terrain, surface hydrology, the near-surface climate, sediments and associated groundwater reserve, the biological resources, and the human settlement pattern and infrastructure resulting from human activity. Land is required for various uses in both the urban and rural areas of all society. As nations grew in size and rural areas become urban centres and urban centres become large metropolitan areas, there is always increased competition as well as demand for land for different purposes. This requires adequate planning and control to ensure harmonious development and functional efficiency of these uses and settlements.
Conceptually, the Von Ludwig Bettalanffy's (1971) General System Theory provides an appropriate framework for comparing the mutual interdependence of land policies, sustainable development and integrated land use management systems. Akin to the General Systems theory where everything affects everything else are the trans-boundary effects of local and regional policies on land and allied resources, which today have assumed remarkable currency. Consequently, local policies are no longer viewed in their isolationist context, but within the broader framework of constraints and opportunities afforded by the 21st century information technology. As a common factor and denominator in the framing and execution of the social and economic policies of nations, Racticliffe (1976), was of the view that the allocation, use and management of land should be done to guarantee access and equity, which the Land Use Act (1978), aimed to achieve in Nigeria. In particular, population increases arising from uncontrolled natural births and rural-urban migration, and a growing commercial sense, have combined to re-orientates the traditional communal land …