x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Planners put the brakes on new buildings without parking plans

Construction of residential and office buildings in the capital will be blocked unless designers allow for sufficient parking in their proposals, the Urban Planning Council has said.

ABU DHABI // Construction of residential and office buildings in the capital will be blocked unless designers allow for sufficient parking in their proposals, the Urban Planning Council has said. In the past, buildings were constructed with inadequate parking, which means drivers are often forced to park cars in potentially obstructive and dangerous places. The design review branch of the planning council said it would now refuse projects if it believed they would contribute to parking problems.

Falah al Ahbabi, the general manager of the council, said: "Developers don't always include parking in their plans. But now we have the design review. The street is not a car park. It will take time, but we're taking all the parking off the streets, and creating a better public realm." The original city plan, which was designed in the early 1970s, did not fully account for the rapid population growth of Abu Dhabi today, and designs did not provide buildings with sufficient parking spaces.

One of the requirements of the Abu Dhabi 2030 Plan, launched in 2007, was getting parked cars off the street and out of sight to make the city more beautiful, pedestrian-friendly and less congested. Paid parking will be introduced in the capital next year to further increase the pressure on motorists to use proper car parks. Mr al Ahbabi said a combination of underground and multi-storey car parks were necessary. He said the emirate's high water table meant underground parks could not go below four storeys deep without being dangerous. For tall buildings, it makes more sense to have parking facilities above ground, he said. He confirmed proposals had been rejected as a result of failing to account for parking. Architects and designers were being told to submit new plans before the projects could gain approval. Mr al Ahbabi did not identify specific developments. The Tourist Club area is among the most densely developed areas in the city, with high-rise office and apartment towers on every street. But many of these buildings, most of which were put up in the early stages of Abu Dhabi's modernisation, do not provide parking. The downtown central business district is another area where parking is a problem. With high-rise buildings lining the streets around Airport Road and Electra Street, sprawling car parks occupy valuable inner city land behind them. Planners believe this space would be better used for pedestrians. jhume@thenational.ae