Bahrain - Plans to allow unprecedented massive urbanisation in the heart of the Capital Governorate have been vetoed.
The Capital Trustees Board rejected proposed moves by the Urban Planning and Development Authority to allow high-rise commercial buildings in Manama and surrounding areas that include Hoora, Gudaibiya, Naim and Ras Ruman.
Former Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Minister Essam Khalaf had presented a request to reclassify 1,162 plots from residential to commercial.
Following an on-field assessment, the board’s technical committee has rejected reclassifying 60 plots located behind Exhibition Avenue, while giving the go-ahead for the rest.
However, this changed during a meeting between board members and Capital Trustees Authority officials.
Board chairman Saleh Tarradah pointed out that the capital was already saturated with businesses leading to constant traffic congestion, and pressure on infrastructure.
“Even allowing just one high-rise building could lead to a disastrous chain reaction affecting the road, sewage, telecom, electricity and water networks.”
He also said the request to reclassify plots was general in nature, and did not contain a report on future impact assessment.
“Even the graveyards were included in the plots that would have seen high-rise buildings.
“From what I understand, the capital would be classified as an investment and commercial hub, in which people would be expected to live with constant business and office activity.”
Mr Tarradah said people should be allowed to live in peace without being swallowed up by an influx of businesses.
“We are not against business, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of someone having to park in La La Land to reach their home or apartment.”
Capital Trustees Authority director-general Mohammed Saad Al Sehli agreed that the move would only help attract investments and businesses, while creating havoc.
“We are not against urbanisation and it is the nature of life, but at the same time we have to consider that there are people who would be badly affected,” he said.
“For everything there are pros and cons and to be frank maybe the Urban Planning and Development Authority has done a comprehensive study that has not arrived yet.
“We have to always remember that several investors who were authorised to open businesses and had agreed to provide car parking, rented out adjacent plots for a few months, and then decided otherwise forcing customers to park outside people’s homes or apartment buildings or wherever they could find place.”
The board’s technical committee chairman Mubarak Al Nuaimi said the idea of progress shouldn’t be met with opposition.
“We need to approve the concept and then leave technicalities to the Urban Planning and Development Authority,” he said.
“The heart of Manama should reflect growth, progress and business development.
“We agree that there are some areas such as Exhibition Avenue where the infrastructure is under immense pressure, but there are other places which with proper planning could be good for development.”
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