A massive development project located on the south-western coast of Bahrain has been given a boost with councillors giving the green light to authorities to waive all urbanisation restrictions.
The Southern Municipal Council voted unanimously to allow the Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry to reclassify around 1.6 million square metres of land on Bilaj Aljazayer beach as a “special project”.
The current mixed classification for public services and recreational purposes limit Bahrain Real Estate Investment Company (Edamah), the government’s real estate arm, from carrying out intended development projects.
If Minister Essam Khalaf reclassifies the land, then Edamah will have to present a traffic impact assessment (TIA) and a hydrodynamic study on water flow under various scenarios.
The masterplan is listed on Edamah’s website as a public beach featuring food and beverage outlets, retail shops, hospitality, entertainment, leisure enterprises and residential components.
Edamah has managed to list all its plots under one deed, but with different classifications.
“This is a strategic project located in a strategic location near the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) and the new Bahrain international exhibitions centre and it has to be supported to be unique and attractive from what is on offer in the region,” said council chairman Bader Al Tamimi.
“The current classification limits Edamah’s ability to develop the place to its full potential and capacity,” he added.
“A special project means that the developers will not need to go through regular classifications and can basically do whatever is suitable through a flexible approach to get investors interested at a time when everyone wants a share of the cake due to the impact caused by Covid-19.
“We have added a clause that a traffic impact assessment is necessary as we don’t want in future to have roads within the project or those surrounding it clogged.
“The hydrodynamic study on water flow under various circumstances is for a barrier that ensures that investments in the project don’t get flooded by water should there be heavy tides or winds.”
Transportation and Telecommunications Minister Kamal Ahmed, who is politically responsible for Edamah, told MPs last month that they had to sell six vacant plots in old residential areas to fund the first phase of Bilaj Aljazayer development, which is estimated to cost BD12 million.
He added that the Ministerial Committee for Developmental Projects and Infrastructure has given Edamah the go-ahead to sell the plots through an auction by Mazaad Bahrain (Bahrain Auction).
Mr Khalaf told MPs in November last year that Bahrain’s biggest beach will remain accessible to the public despite major private developments being planned at the site.
Edamah chief executive Amin Al Arrayed also said earlier the seafront mixed-use tourism and recreational development currently underway would not block sea access or restrict it to the public.
The first phase, which is approximately a one-kilometre unrestricted vacant beachfront, will be supported by a landscaped promenade, food and beverage outlets and beach amenities.
This will be followed by a four-star hotel, branded boutique hotels and residential apartment buildings and will also include family entertainment and water sport activities.
Phase two will include the development of a commercial marina housing retail and residential components, while further south will be the Bilaj Sea Village and Resort.
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