• Mon. Oct 2nd, 2023

Court Favours Watoto Church in Historic Cinema Demolition Case

UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | The High Court in Kampala has ruled that the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) acted illegally in blocking Watoto Church Ministries from demolishing the iconic Norman Cinema building, Uganda’s first cinema hall.

The building, established by Indian businessman Norman Godinho, has historical significance in the country.

Watoto Church had planned to demolish the cinema building and construct a 12-storey building in its place, which would include a three-star hotel, a 3,000-seater auditorium, a shopping centre, and a youth centre.

However, KCCA and the National Physical Planning Board (NPPB) refused to approve the plans, leading Watoto Church to seek a judicial review of the decision.

Acting judge Douglas Singiza, in his ruling, stated that it was unreasonable for KCCA to block the demolition based on the argument that the building is a national heritage site.

He highlighted that without any bylaw designating the Watoto Church building as a national heritage site, it was illegal and irrational for KCCA and NPPB to reject the mixed-use development plans.

The court ordered that the decision to reject Watoto Church’s plans be reviewed and set aside, as it was procedurally illegal and improper.

A writ of mandamus was issued, instructing the respondents (KCCA) to reconsider the mixed-use development plans within three months, while also considering the existing KCCA physical development planning regulations and guidelines.

The acting judge guided KCCA, stating that if the authority wishes to declare any property within its jurisdiction as a national heritage site, a bylaw should be enacted to give it legal effect.

Within a period of three years, KCCA is required to enact a bylaw listing all the properties within the capital city that should be protected as national heritage sites.


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