Ghana requires an efficient and effective land use management and planning system for the sustainable growth of its cities and towns and also to address its rapid urbanization challenges. Total population more than doubled between 1984 and 2013 whilst urban population growth peaks at 4.4% annually. Accompanied by unplanned spatial expansion, the trend has spurred urban centres such as Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, Koforidua as well as other regional towns to develop into big urban “villages”.

Urban housing in Ghana is significantly characterized as informal and unplanned. About 90% of housing in urban Ghana is built without statutory planning control (UN-habitat, 2012). Developments generally precede planning to account for a large stock of unauthorized houses, the focus of this research.

Institutions established to manage and regulate developments have failed. The paper employs a descriptive analysis from an inventory of developments in Accra to show the inefficiencies of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies in the country. It concludes that institutional failures in urban planning and development do not only account for limited and unequal access to basic urban services but also a disincentive to mobilize real estate related revenue. An urgent intervention is therefore required to promote effective and efficient urban land administration and management.