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Sat 12 May 2007 12:00 AM

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Abu Dhabi launches growth control plan

New initiative could affect current masterplans as emirate looks towards infrastructure integration.

The Abu Dhabi government has launched a comprehensive urban planning initiative in an attempt to take greater control over escalating development in the emirate.

It aims to ensure increased integration between large-scale projects, and could result in developers having to make significant design changes to projects currently under construction.

The creation of an integrated masterplan for Abu Dhabi involves plans for coordinated transport networks, public amenities and other infrastructure development.

Measures will also be put in place to ensure that development is maintained at a controlled level, without placing too much strain on the city's resources.

This could mean some plans being scaled back in a bid to prevent over-development.

"Up until now many of the masterplans have considered developments in isolation and treated them as separate entities," said Colin Hill, a technical director for engineering and architectural consultancy, OTAK International.

"But the only way that ongoing developments are going to work is if they are integrated and form part of an overall development strategy for Abu Dhabi. There is a noticeable movement along those lines."

As Abu Dhabi attempts to avoid the issues that have plagued other emerging cities, developers have said that the new regulation will not drastically impact current designs.

"At the present time, it's not going to fundamentally change our existing construction programme. Like everything else, all masterplans are continually being revised and reviewed," said Lee Smith, director of infrastructure, Tamouh.

"I think most developers see the importance of infrastructure being installed at an early stage, to ensure that all developments are successful."

Smith added any changes made to developments early on shouldn't be too costly.

"From Tamouh's point of view our costs are flexible, we have a very flexible masterplan and we don't see any negative effect at this early stage. Those developers who are in the initial throes of their development will take note and most are working closely with the authorities to ensure this initiative is successful."

According to Sami Al Qazzaz, regional manager of Halcrow in Abu Dhabi, the initiative has been brought in at a critical point in the development of the emirate.

"I think this is something that is needed purely to ensure that there is proper planning between all the developments and better integration between transport networks and various other systems," he said.

"Of course developers may complain if they have to adjust their projects, but if it's at the early stages, it will be easier."

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