The National Social and Economic Development Board (NSEDB) organised a workshop last Monday entitled “Reforming and Developing Urban Planning” at the NESDB’s Tripoli headquarters.
The workshop was held in the presence of the NESDB Director General, Mahmoud Al-Futaisi, several ministers in the Tripoli based Libyan government, a number of representatives and heads of bodies and departments related to urban planning and development, and with the participation of the Chairman of the Board of the Department of Statistics and Census, the Chairman of the Board of the Survey Authority, the Chairman of the Board of the National Consultative Office, and President of the General Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.
To reform and develop the urban planning system in Libya 2023-2024
The workshop dealt with an overview of the project to reform and develop the urban planning system in Libya 2023-2024, urban planning legislation and related legislation, with exposure to the institutional system related to urban planning and the dangers of random construction spreading in Libyan cities. The workshop reviewed the best international practices in several countries, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and models of advanced planning systems in Asia, Europe and the USA.
First, Second and Third Generation Urban Plans
Commenting on the importance of the project in developing the urban planning system in Libya, the Head of the Project Preparation Team, Ahmed Al-Mukhtar, said that urban planning in Libya went through several historical stages from independence until 1973.
He said there were good urban expansion plans in accordance with the urban development plans at the time, which were included in the First Generation plans, which were not fully implemented. The second stage was after 1973 and included the Second Generation plans, which were also not fully implemented for several reasons, including the lack of seriousness of the state and its institutions at the time (the Qaddafi regime) in implementing them.
The third phase took place during the first decade of this millennium, which included the Third Generation plans and their amendments, and they were also not fully implemented.
To work with reality on the ground
Al-Mukhtar pointed out that the urban planning reform and development project aims to work in a manner commensurate with reality. This includes the possibility of contributing to the application and implementation of urban plans for Libyan cities, especially the largest ones in which urban expansion has increased without considering the approved plan.
This, he continued, caused an attack on their urban classification. Construction was done on lands classified as non-residential, such as allocated lands for educational, health, and other service facilities, causing urban confusion, including the state’s inability to implement infrastructure projects in a manner commensurate with urban classifications.
State failing to oblige citizens to implement urban planning classifications
He said there is an absence of the state’s role in obliging citizens, whether individuals or real estate development companies, to the approved real estate classifications according to the plans of the Urban Planning Department.
This has led to random expansion that the state and its various agencies were unable to control and codify in line with the urban planning of the Libyan cities, especially the largest ones, where their area increased.
Urban crowding around Tripoli has suffocated the capital
He pointed out that random construction in Tripoli, as an example, is outside the urban plan by more than twice the area of the city within the urban plan. This is due to the absurdity that occurred of the allocation (by the Qaddafi regime) of ownership of agricultural lands to some citizens and subsequently citizens selling them as residential subdivisions without an approved official plan. This caused a crowding of the population around the capital and suffocated it in a way that made it difficult to implement public utility projects such as roads, infrastructure, and underground/metro easily.
Al-Mukhtar believes that the project to reform and develop the urban planning system will enable the state to keep pace with the terrible urban expansion in the main cities, especially Tripoli and Benghazi, in a way that considers the implementation of approved urban plans, prevents attacks on them, and keeps pace with urban models in developed countries.
At the conclusion of the workshop, recommendations were issued, including the participation of specialists in preparing, reviewing and approving plans, working on preparing amendments and legal projects based on the results of the planning and institutional teams, and developing planning standards that respond to the requirements of flexibility and resilience.