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Wed 7 Jul 2010 06:36 AM

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UK-style planning laws urged for GCC - expert

System would control quality, quantity of homes, offices in region - CB Richard Ellis chief.

UK-style planning laws urged for GCC - expert

Gulf states should introduce a UK-style planning permission system in a bid to curb oversupply and control future development in the region, a leading Dubai-based real estate consultant told Arabian Business.

“I think the closest to a planning [system] is what is being proposed by the Crown Prince in Abu Dhabi, in that there is a central authority that looks at all schemes and proposed developers to ensure that they are developed for the benefit of the country a whole,” said Nick MacLean, managing director of global real estate consultancy CB Richard Ellis in Dubai.

Maclean has called for the introduction of a centralised form of planning, similar to what exists in the UK and Ireland.

"That can make a determination as to what we need in terms of office and residential stock and make sure it tags the increase in demographics here,” he said.

He said the issue is currently being considered at a federal level in the UAE but would be beneficial across the region.

During the boom years, many parts of the GCC set up strategic plans for the future, such as Abu Dhabi’s 2030 plan and Dubai’s 2015 plan, but these were generally based on a model that expected the population to keep growing at a fast pace.

The global recession has seen the pace of population growth slow and Maclean recommends the setting up of a planning permission system to curb the oversupply problem in many areas, especially Dubai.

“If we are not going to have the demographic change that is required to generate demand for accommodation then we need to control supply and that is why I suggest I think we introduce some form of stricter planning controls,” he said.

Currently, land was simply zoned depending on the usage, such as residential or commercial or mixed use, but there are few restrictions on the size, design or height of what could be built. The only determining factor, said Maclean, is the cost of the land.

“What determines what is going to be built on most sites is the size of the site and the price and therefore the reason for high rise in many locations is the cost of the land, which means it is not economical for developers to build low rise buildings,” he said.

In 2007, Abu Dhabi made some strides towards regulating development and set up the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, chaired by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.

The council’s remit is to define “the shape of the Emirate, ensuring factors such as sustainability, infrastructure capacity, community planning and quality of life, by overseeing development across the city and the Emirate as a whole.”

In the UK, local council planning committees decide whether a property can be built and the developer must submit detailed plans for approval before work can start on site.

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JK 10 years ago

Bring us a German style or Japanese style or Canadian. But please not British. Their style of law has failed for their own land and now they are trying to make a fortune by tricking arabs. please. NO THANK YOU.

Fred Flinstone 10 years ago

Good idea, but it wont work. People here are too slow in getting things done on a normal day without these regs. Can you imagine how long a developer would have to wait for someone to approve planning.

Joe Bloggs 10 years ago

This is a great idea, it may bring some much needed sanity to the UAE. Residents in any particular area should have a say in what is being built right next to them. Dubai has been a terrible place to live over the last seven years, with all the un-planned construction, 24/7 building and so on. Give residents the chance to put their views forward and we might start seeing better planned buildings and communities. By the way JK, planning laws are much tougher in Japan, Canada and Germany than they are in the UK. Stop being so sad.

Zoheir 10 years ago

Planning regulations are needed when you really need to plan housing. In the past, who cared about demand & supply. Buildings & Villas were not constructed for the prospective home owners but for the speculative investors who treated it as a fast moving consumer good. They were catching in on some quick bucks taking the advantage of the fake bullish rally. This move by UAE federal government is an intelligent move albeit a late one.

Peter Peter 10 years ago

Can the UAE government also look into making people hold to their promises when they sell property ? Our investment is stuck in projects that are not even started after two years and there is no way to get our money back. And in Dubai TECOM is delisting free zone designatecd buildings without any concern for what it does to the investors who put money down for a TECOM property. And of course we all know about the promises to give residence visas to those who invest in Dubai and what happened to that !

Ibrahim 10 years ago

GCC states need a governing body for ensuring that the real state developments are really needed as mentioned in the article. however, I really doubt that the UK planning system is the way to go! look at London and you can know it is not working!