Yesterday, the Haifa District Planning and Building Commission deposited the outline plan for Binyamina-Givat Ada. The new plan's goal is a doubling of the settlement's population, number of housing units, and population density within twenty years. The challenges are to preserve the settlement's rural character, and to unite its two halves (over a distance of seven kilometers), while creating local jobs and providing income-producing real estate.
The Binyamina-Givat Ada local council is in Hanadiv (Benefactor's) Valley, named for Baron Edmond de Rothschild, who was known as "the benefactor" for his assistance to early Jewish settlement in what was then Palestine. The twin settlement is ten kilometers north of Hadera and five kilometers south of Zichron Yaakov. The local council's area is some 24,400 dunams (6,100 acres), and it contains the settlements of Binyamina and Givat Ada, which were consolidated in 2003, the Binyamina quarry, Shuni Park, the Carmel industrial zone, and extensive agricultural land in Hanadiv Valley.
Binyamina was founded in 1922 by people from the nearby settlements of Zichron Yaakov and Givat Ada from families of the First Aliyah, and by new arrivals in the Third Aliyah (the first and third waves of Zionist immigration to Palestine from Europe). In the 1990s, the settlement started to expand rapidly, and as a result its character began to change. Binyamina currently has a population of about 11,150.
Givat Ada was founded in 1903, and is named after Baron de Rothschild's wife Adelaide. The founders were eight families, mainly from Zichron Yaakov. Its economy was mainly based on agriculture, particularly its wineries. Givat Ada too went through a period of expansion in the 1990s, and its population now numbers over 4,000.
The population growth in the local council area in the past two decades led to changes in its social complexion and sense of identity, and raised the tension between preservation and development in a sensitive landscape. A crisis in local agriculture led to pressure to develop on agricultural land.
The new general outline plan allows the local council's population capacity to grow to up to 34,000: 25,600 in Binyamina and 8,400 in Givat Ada. Some 4,000 housing units will be added to the statutorily authorized 5,500: 3,100 in Binyamina and 900 in Givat Ada. The local council's planned population density is 1,385 people per square kilometer, which compares with 630 per square kilometer today. In Zichron Yaakov, the population density is currently 730 per square kilometer, and in Tel Aviv it is 8,565 per square kilometer.
The plan, coordinated by architect Dorit Spinat, a partner in the Haifa firm of Gordon Architects & Urban Planners, puts forward several means of enabling construction while preserving the settlements' rural character, including density and height limits - up to five floors in the new neighborhoods. Road 653, which is currently not built up, will become the connecting route between Binyamina and Givat Ada and will turn into an urban street.
The railway which currently runs through the center of Binyamina will be switched to a route along Road 4, by Or Akiva. The idea is a combined development that will create a regional center consisting of Binyamina and Or Akiva that will reduce development pressure on the veteran settlement and encourage construction of more income-producing real estate. The existing railway line, which cuts Binyamina in half from north to south, will become a pedestrian mall.
Local council head Itay Weisberg said, "The plan is the fulfilment of the promise made to voters of preserving the character of the settlement through a statutory 'safety suit' for the years ahead. This safety suit is the general outline plan.
"It is a privilege for me to be at this historic window of opportunity such as occurs once in decades, to secure the character of the settlements and their future for many years to come. I feel that I had good partners, both in the settlement and in the planning administration, with whom we arrived at a plan that I am proud to sign as its initiator."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 11, 2020
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