Jerusalem Municipality calls for more density along light rail routes

Announcement comes after 15 Arab home demolitions.

A laborer works on an apartment building under construction in Jerusalem (photo credit: REUTERS)
A laborer works on an apartment building under construction in Jerusalem
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Jerusalem Municipality announced a major density increase for projects along the capital’s growing light rail network.
City Hall’s Local Planning and Building Committee approved the Municipality Planning Department’s policy calling for significantly higher building rights for residential, business and hotel construction along the capital’s light rail routes.
Presently, the 13.9-km. Red Line, which began operating in 2011, services tens of thousands of passengers each day from the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood in the north to Mount Herzl in the west. The line is now being extended to the southwest to Hadassah-University Medical Center in Ein Kerem, and to Neveh Ya’acov in the north.
A second light rail route, called the Blue Line, was approved by the Planning Committee in January. The 23-kilometer route will serve 250,000 residents from Gilo in the south to Ramot in the north, with a spur traversing Emek Refaim to Malha.
A third route, called the Green Line, which will run for 19.3 km.
from Mount Scopus to Gilo, is awaiting approval, the municipality said.
“This plan will increase the number of residential units being constructed in the city, streamline the use of the light rail, and make it a major part of the city’s development,” the municipality said in a statement.
“This major plan utilizes the many advantages of Jerusalem’s advanced public transportation network, and is intended to encourage development, and add thousands of new residential units in the city.”
According to the municipality, the plan, presented by the city’s Urban Planning Department, dramatically increases floor-area ratios for approved projects.
“For plots of up to one dunam [0.1 hectare], the floor-area-ratio in the plans will be increased from 240 percent to 360%, and the maximum height from six to nine floors; for plots of up to 1.5 dunams, the floor-area ratio will be increased from 320% to 440%, with a maximum height of 12 floors; for plots of more than 1.5 dunams, the floor-area ratio will be increased to 720%, with a maximum of 18 floors, instead of the 8-12 that are currently allowed; and for plots on a high-ridge line, the floor-area- ratio may even reach 1,200%, with a maximum height of 30 floors,” the municipality said in a statement.
The Local Planning and Building Committee emphasized that the new policy will take into account “inter alia, the social and cultural characteristics of communities in the city’s neighborhoods, and ensure optimal construction areas for low-rise construction, in accordance with the needs of residents.”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said the plan will improve the capital’s antiquated transportation infrastructure, add thousands of new residential units across the city, and strengthen the commercial sector.
“Over the next few years, Jerusalem will become the most accessible city in the country, operating an efficient and advanced public transport system that includes several light rail lines,” he said in a statement.
“Increasing the construction rights along the light rail routes allows us to add thousands of new residential units to the city, as well as commercial and hotel areas, strengthening and increasing accessibility for the city’s residents.”
Moreover, the mayor said plans for high-rise construction will take into account “conservation areas in historic areas, traffic and parking solutions, the integration of open spaces, the development of public areas, with public consultation of residents and the community.”
The new plan was developed in collaboration with the District Planning Office as part of the municipality’s policy of encouraging urban renewal, while preserving the green areas and open spaces citywide, Barkat said.
Meir Turgeman, deputy mayor and chairman of the Local Planning and Building Committee, described the plan as far-reaching and progressive.
“This is a large and significant step in the development of the city of Jerusalem, with an unusual and innovative combination of the development of public infrastructure and the city’s economy – a combination that will lead to the next generation of development plans for the city,” said Turgeman.
It remains unclear if, or how many, Palestinian building permits will be approved in the municipality’s plan.
Barkat said the plan will be presented to the District Planning and Building Committee for final approval in the coming weeks.
“The Municipality does not discriminate based on race, religion, or gender. The only criteria by which building plans are approved are proof-of-ownership and compliance with the city’s master plan,” the mayor said.
“This plan, which is in a preliminary stage of approval, will provide all property owners along the light rail routes additional rights for future expansions.”