Bahrain to ease construction ban
Manama, May 21, 2011
The Bahrain municipality officials said they plan to ease a six-year ban on construction in old neighbourhoods of Muharraq area.
The Muharraq Municipal Council has agreed to consider home and building permits on a case by case basis.
New criteria will now be drawn up by the Muharraq Municipality for applicants before requests are submitted to the council for approval.
Councillors last month voted to have the ban partially lifted within specific residential blocks in view of necessary expansion for a growing population.
However, the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry and other government organisations objected to the plan, saying it would harm the identity of old neighbourhoods.
A decision to relax the ban follows demands for action by businessmen and residents.
Council chairman Abdulnasser Al Mahmeed agreed with government concerns about the ban being lifted in specific blocks, saying that old homes and buildings were scattered across the Muharraq Governorate's neighbourhoods and not in one particular place.
"We can't lift the ban on a whole block because it means that homes and buildings that we want protected could be demolished for new ones," he said.
"When the ban was imposed six years ago, it was for one reason and that's protecting the identity of old Muharraq neighbourhoods.
"I acknowledge that no one can stop urbanisation and development, but it shouldn't be done at the expense of Muharraq's uniqueness and tranquillity."
But Al Mahmeed backed the relaxing of the ban, saying it was illogical to deny a building permit for a single traditional home surrounded by 20 multi-storey buildings.
"This means that the council will have no problem accepting individual construction permit cases, which it will treat as exceptions, but we have to make one thing clear and that's the ban continues especially in blocks that have a lot of old homes," he said.-TradeArabia News Service