Bahrain plans new zoning system
Manama, November 25, 2012
Zoning specialists could be soon forced on government officials in a bid to help reclassify Bahrain's streets and neighbourhoods, said a report.
Councillors claim classification by the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry is not being done using proper criteria. The Manama Municipal Council has demanded a specialised company be hired to create a new system, according to a report in the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
It has been lobbying Bahrain's four other councils, which have offered to back the suggestion, which will be forwarded by each council to minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi in the coming weeks.
The situation has become serious as controversial classifications have allegedly led to clashes among neighbours, the report said.
"Classifications these days follow a weird pattern because two neighbours living opposite each other in the same neighbourhood receive different treatment, just because one is in the Central Governorate and the other is in the Capital Governorate, with one getting permission to open shops under commercial zoning and the other disallowed," said Manama Municipal Council vice-chairman Mohammed Mansoor.
"I don't want to blame ministry engineers, but in certain cases neighbourhoods that we never thought would be turned commercial are now full of shops and other businesses just because plots there are owned by VIPs or influential people.
"Another problem is that the ministry's engineers are each assigned to certain blocks and according to their personal opinion they take a decision even if it doesn't really match activity in the area."
Previously such decisions were taken by a street and neighbourhood classification committee made up of representatives from all government bodies concerned.
"When it got cancelled and its duties were given to the Urban Planning Directorate at the ministry, a lot of problems began to surface more than when the committee existed as people think that we favour one landowner on another, especially with two neighbours applying for the same thing and one getting permit and the other not," said Mansoor.
"Since they can't fight with us, they tend to fight with others about accusations of favouritism.
"A company like Grey McKenzie that drew up Master Plan 2030 would certainly help us a lot in classifying Bahrain's streets and neighbourhoods, in a professional way that everyone agrees with.
"I am not here saying that the same company should be brought in and the contract could be tendered. "If random classification continues then even if we try to fix it in the future, solutions will become more difficult to find," he said.-TradeArabia News Service