Building on ‘Plan Al Ain City 2030’, the Urban Structure Framework Plan launched in 2009 which provided the overarching principles and directions aligned with projected economic and demographic trends for Al Ain City, and following the recently completed Wasat Madinat Al Ain Plan, which focuses on downtown Al Ain, the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) announced today that it is taking the Plan to the next level by identifying new planning opportunities in the 64 districts that comprise Al Ain. The Development Plan for Urban Areas in Al Ain will be comprised of a series of planning policies and major projects that will directly benefit the communities located in these districts by enhancing the lifestyles of residents.
The year-long development phase for Al Ain urban project is a logical progression of Plan Ain City 2030. It takes the overall needs assessment conducted as part of the overarching framework plan and drills down to a greater level of detail through in-depth research and the use of best practice planning methodologies. In addition, the results of the UPC’s ‘Style Your Life’ survey conducted through 11,000 households in the Emirate to determine the current and future community facility needs, the GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technical data and information from various resources including SCAD (Statistic Centre Abu Dhabi) demographic data will be utilised.
To ensure an integrated approach to identifying the strategic planning opportunities for Al Ain, the UPC will work with a range of stakeholders to incorporate plans and strategies currently available. These include the Al Ain Surface Transportation Master Plan (STMP), developed by the Department of Transport (DoT) and designed to enhance connectivity in and between the districts, the Al Ain World Heritage Site plans currently being coordinated by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority with concrete examples such as the future preservation of the traditional ‘falaj’ fresh water network. The plans of the many utility providers, who are working to ensure current and future demands for power and water are met, will also be fully integrated.
The Development Plan for Urban Areas in Al Ain will be developed utilising the UPC’s suite of planning policies, standards and manuals, including the Abu Dhabi Public Realm Design Manual, Urban Street Design Manual and the Abu Dhabi Community Facility Planning Standards to ensure a consistent approach across all districts. Furthermore, the new Al Ain Development Code will also be utilised to guide the shape of future development in the city. The use of these ‘tools’ will help to mitigate some of the challenges that have already been identified, including the importance of protecting the city’s many environmental and historical assets and its unique identity as an ‘oasis city’ with the need for development and improvements in connectivity across the city.
Al Ain is divided into 64 districts, including 29 urban districts and 35 rural and suburban districts. These districts are further divided into 322 communities across Al Ain. These districts surround Wasat Madinat Al Ain, the downtown ‘heart’ of Al Ain City.
“Al Ain has reached a crucial turning point as a rapidly expanding Emirati population and the trend for very large plot sizes have combined to fill in the available, vacant lands. The Development Plan for Urban Areas in Al Ain aims to improve the efficiency of available land in Al Ain City by identifying sites for new buildings on underutilised land. It ensures a high quality of life for all residents by providing adequate community facilities, such as schools and clinics, along with a number of parks and plazas, and identifies development policies that will protect the character of Al Ain’s neighbourhoods and facilitate new development opportunities,” said Eng. Amer Al Hammadi, Director of Planning and Infrastructure, Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council.
Through the analysis of existing conditions and GIS mapping to ensure existing land allocations are appropriate for the required community facilities and infrastructure components within each district, the SPP framework for Al Ain will identify essential needs, from community facility and increased infrastructure capacity needs, through to improved streets and pedestrian pathway networks. The planning implementation, all of which will be in line with the overarching principles and goals of Plan Al Ain City 2030, will include strategic and practical ways forward and, following discussions with Government agencies, may be executed strategically on a case-by-case basis as Leadership deems appropriate and needs are proven.
“By having clearly identified new planning opportunities in all urban districts and communities, our objective is to make a difference for Al Ain’s future generations by designing a city that enhances the sustainable social, cultural, environmental and economic aspects of the area. Each community in the Emirate is distinct in its own vision. At the UPC, we understand and acknowledge the unique cultural and environmental ethos of each region and hence have always aimed at developing plans and initiatives that not only preserve these precious elements, but also integrate the more appropriate urban planning principles to create complete sustainable communities,” concluded Al Hammadi.
Ultimately, each community will benefit from tailored plans that meet its distinctive needs while preserving and complementing the existing identity of the districts while building upon their cultural heritage in order to strategically enhance the lives of all residents. As with all of the UPC’s planning and implementation initiatives, the UPC’s Planning and Policies Team will embark on different community outreach programmes, which will enable residents and stakeholders to engage and interact directly with the team to discuss and understand the development opportunities linked to the Planning Projects in more detail. These sessions are anticipated to be held in late summer 2012 and will be supported by a comprehensive communications campaign to ensure residents are informed of the scheduled consultation sessions well in advance.
The visionary Plan Al Ain 2030, which was unveiled by the UPC in April 2009, presents a coherent picture for the future of Al Ain as an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable city. It proposes new ways to grow and leverage the economic opportunities at hand without sacrificing the agricultural character of the city – and adds new elements to make it a dynamic hub of knowledge in the modern global economy.
Plan Al Ain 2030 received the highly acclaimed 2009 ISOCARP Award for Excellence. The unique masterplan has won this recognition for being the best strategic regional planning initiative.
The International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) Awards for Excellence are conferred in recognition of exceptional innovative urban and regional initiatives.