IDF colleges in Jerusalem get green light

IDF college / Imagin: Arad Simon Architects

An appeals committee dismissed appeals against rezoning land designated for public buildings.

The appeals subcommittee of the National Planning and Building Commission dismissed the appeals against the approval of a plan for IDF colleges in Jerusalem in the Kiryat Menachem and Ein Kerem neighborhoods, thereby giving the IDF the green light for the project.

The plan, submitted by the Jerusalem Development Authority, is located on 39 dunam (9.75 acres) bordered by Henrietta Szold Street on the south, the Israel Elwyn center (the former Swedish Village) on the west, Carmit Road on the east, and a hillside and Ein Kerem on the north. The land is a division of state-owned public space, to which an approved plan for a public institution applies. The colleges option was chosen as the best of many according to planning, economic, social, practical, and environmental criteria.

The plan includes a new campus that will take on the activity of the IDF command and staff colleges on the Glilot site. It contains eight different military training schools, shared buildings such as an auditorium, sports facilities, administrative buildings, and residential facilities. The construction proposed in the plan is 3-5 storeys high and contains 76,000 square meters.

When the plan was first deposited last year, many objections to it were filed, among other things because it involved uprooting trees. The decision to construct the complex in this location was also strongly criticized.

In the ensuing discussions in the National Planning and Building Commission, it was decided to dismiss most of the objections. Only one objection concerning putting back an area in the northern part of the site was actually accepted, and the argument that there were tenants close to the area of the plan with more than average sensitivity to nuisances was partly accepted. The decision stated that reducing nuisances for residents of nearby Swedish Village would be taken into account by the environmental department in the detailed plan, as stipulated in the plan, and there would also be coordination with Elwyn Israel in order to make sure than the needs of the tenants in this institution would be met.

Two appeals against the decision were later filed in the appeals subcommittee. One was by three members of the District Planning and Building Commission: Ofer Berkovitch, Avraham Shaked, and Niv Vizel. The Ein Kerem neighborhood committee filed another appeal.

In the current discussion, the committee unanimously dismissed most of the arguments in the appeals. Among other things, it said that it had been convinced that the selected alternative had advantages in availability, access to public and private transportation, and taking into account that the base in question would be a closed one, a location on the edge of the neighborhood, rather than in its center. The committee said that in view of the characteristics of construction in the campus format, and given that the area in question was already zoned for construction in the approved plan, a public building in this space would probably cause greater damage to the scenery.

As to allegations that the area of the plan was needed for public needs of the adjacent neighborhoods, the committee held that the difficult balance between the local public needs, which could be solved in a different way, and the national need, there were special reasons justifying the rezoning of the area from public buildings to a different category. The special reason in this case was the need to implement the government's decision on moving IDF colleges to Jerusalem and the willingness of all the relevant parties to carry it out. At the current time, the need and desire to transfer IDF colleges to Jerusalem in the area of the plan can be pushed through, while the alternative locations could not be pushed through.

The committee also held that despite the weighty considerations against rezoning space for public buildings, there were special circumstances making it possible to approve the change in zoning and the plan, while accepting the cancellation of the public zoning of the space. The space is not essential for the surrounding neighborhoods, at least until 2040. There is a mechanism for controlling the pace of implementing the urban renewal plans. The lack of public space will require efficient use of the existing spaces, while the valid plan for the area of the plan does not constitute effective use of the space. Another reason mentioned is that more efficient use of the space under the current zoning is liable to cause greater damage to the scenery and the environment, and more severe traffic problems. It was also stated that there was no justification for leaving the space unused for 20 years at the expense of the current national need.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on August 8, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

IDF college / Imagin: Arad Simon Architects
IDF college / Imagin: Arad Simon Architects
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