There are many ways of getting about that don’t involve four wheels argues Clarkson (2004). In Lamu Old Town, you get around by riding on a donkey or by walking. The main reasons being that Lamu Old Town in Lamu Island has narrow streets that are feature in many of the coastal urban areas in Eastern Africa, like Mombasa Old Town and Zanzibar.

The narrow streets are likely to remain because Lamu Old Town was declared a national monument in 1983. The Old Town is a gazetted buffer zone that includes the Manda and Ras Kitau mangrove skyline and the Shela sand dunes. The Old Lamu Town is protected by the National Museums and Heritage Act of 2006, the Physical Planning Act and EMCA.

What, however, is already changing is the real estate market. Property prices near mega projects have skyrocketed with land in Lamu almost tripling amid speculation of a further rise after completion of the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor according to Itumo, a manager at property firm Badana Investments Ltd (Business Daily, 2014). Itumo further states that speculators are cashing in on the high demand at the expense of local land owners.

The introductory section of the paper discusses the importance of conservation of a national heritage. It goes on to explain the various fundamental measures that are critical to incorporate in conservation of a living settlement. The paper further presents several sales that have occurred in Lamu Old Town. The purpose of the field survey was to ascertain the changes in prices of land since the announcement of the construction of the mega LAPSSET corridor and its likely effect on the sellers of the properties.

The paper concludes with some recommendations on how to preserve a national heritage and an active real estate market without defranchising the local community. The government and the people must look beyond conservation and profits and look at the livelihoods of the people who live within the Old Town.