The Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee has approved the master plan for the East Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Ras al-Amud sources inform "Globes." The aim of the plan is to put in order and legalize existing and future construction in the neighborhood. In the future, residents and developers in the neighborhood can submit building plans to the local planning and building committee.
This is the third such master plan for an East Jerusalem Arab neighborhood following plans for Sur Bahir and Beit Tsafafa, which were both approved for objections by the Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee several years ago. However, since then the plans have not been discussed and approved by the Jerusalem District Committee for Planning and Building.
According to the Jerusalem Statistical Yearbook, Ras al-Amud has 26,000 residents living in 6,000 housing units. According to forecasts, by 2040, the neighborhood will have 51,000 residents and will require an extra 11,000 housing units. A plan drawn up by architect Danny Kaiser proposes building 9,729 housing units of 135-150 square meters in size.
The neighborhood is on the slopes of the Mount of Olives on the eastern limits of the Jerusalem Municipality and its residents consider Ras al-Amud inseparable from Silwan, which adjoins it to the west. The last master plan for the neighborhood was drawn up in 1998, which zoned most of the area as residential. Since then there has been no overall planning for the neighborhood, just a few small partial plans. The latest master plan allocates 31,600 square meters for schools and kindergartens and 12,000 square meters for welfare and community services. The plan does allow for mix-use areas for ground floor commercial premises and offices for tourism.
An important part of the plan is the height restrictions imposed due to the historical and religious importance of the landscape and views. In 2000, buildings were restricted to four floors, but in some parts of the neighborhood this has now been relaxed to six floors.
Jerusalem Municipality confirms that similar master plans are now being drawn up for other East Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods including Beit-Hanina-Shuafat, Issawa, and A-Tur.
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion said, "Regulating planning and construction in East Jerusalem neighborhoods, including promoting master plans, is a cornerstone of the policies that I am leading to strengthen sovereignty and improve quality of life in these neighborhoods."
Over the years Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods have undergone a gradual process of changing their fabric from a collection of villages to densely populated city suburbs. In most of these neighborhoods this transformation has not been supported by appropriate overall planning.
The master plans are being drawn up in cooperation with the residents, which in East Jerusalem is seen as of critical importance by the Jerusalem Municipality due to a lack of trust by residents in the municipality.
In the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem there are chronic housing problems and many homes exceed the planning permission granted. However, the municipality wants to overcome the chaos through consultation with residents.
The plans drawn up by Danny Kaiser Architects together with the Jerusalem Municipality's Planning Division say, 'In most Arab neighborhoods, development has happened without any planning or vision for future development. But for the residents the land is the most sensitive, volatile and unifying issue."
Since the Arab neighborhoods came under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem Municipality after 1967, residents have not been party to the establishment systems managing the land. In the absence of such cooperation and the gap in culture, this has led to automatic opposition.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on August 12, 2019
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