In less than a month, two large-scale development plans that will add tens of thousands of residents to Rehovot in the coming years have been advanced. Last month, an urban renewal plan for 10,000 housing units in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood was approved. Now another huge plan has been approved for deposit through the National Committee for Planning Priority Housing Areas. The new plan, 3003, involves a 1,800-dunam (450-acre) parcel of land in east Rehovot. This plan contains 6,900 housing units and 700,000 square meters of commercial and business space, as well as public buildings and 230 dunam (57.5 acres) of open space.
The plan is located on privately owned agricultural land east of Begin Road, which is currently the city's eastern boundary. The plan being promoted, which was designed by the Rosenfeld-Arens architectural firm, was selected in a closed architectural competition conducted in May by the Rehovot municipality. The plan is being promoted in cooperation with Apartment for Rent - The Governmental Company for Housing and Rental. 1,000 of the apartments in the plan are reserved for long-term rentals.
Following the decision by the National Committee for Planning Priority Housing Areas, Apartment for Rent CEO Yair Tal told "Globes," "The new neighborhood will provide high-standard residences in the heart of a high-demand area with very good access to transportation. The plan is another important element in the company's activity in developing and establishing a long-term rental market in Israel."
Rehovot Mayor Rahamim Malul also responded positively to the decision by the National Committee for Planning Priority Housing Areas, saying, "We welcome the Committee's decision to deposit the plan for east Rehovot. The new neighborhood will offer a high quality of life with a range of public spaces and bustling commercial streets. I have no doubt that the proposed plan will contribute to the city's economic strength by creating a supply of desirable employment, with good access to transportation."
"Damage to open spaces"
Not everyone shares this view, however. Rehovot resident Yuval Rosenberg, a member of an organization called "The Center for Social Justice," attended the discussion at the National Committee for Planning Priority Housing Areas, and criticized the plan. "It is known that Rehovot has land resources for construction that could double the city's population, so there is no need for construction in east Rehovot. There are urban renewal plans that have been stalled for years, and plans in open spaces that are far less important to the environment and far more accessible to the city," he remarked.
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) also criticized the decision to go ahead with the plan, which it says damages open spaces. "We regret another decision by the National Committee for Planning Priority Housing Areas that damages valuable open space for the sake of creating a suburban neighborhood that will only weaken the existing city. It is time to do away with the Committee's activity in order to prevent further destruction of open spaces," SPNI stated.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 27, 2019
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