Developing the regulations for rapid urban growth: the new Centre Plans and TOD of the Doha metropolis, Qatar

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Abstract Summary
In less than a few decades Qatar – a country in the middle of the Arabian Peninsula – has grown from a fishing and pearl hunting nation into the most affluent economy with the highest GDP per capita in the world. The population increased from just over a hundred thousand in the 70s to around 2.5 million currently. These major changes had to be reflected in the spatial growth of the country, mainly the metropolitan area of joint Doha and Al Rayyan municipalities.

Such rapid changes needed a parallel evolution of planning regulations and approaches to spatial development, that did not exist before. Planners had to introduce to the country and implement a whole new system to meet the needs of developers, but also to be able to control its development and make sure it follows a coherent vision. Very basic regulations were substituted by complex strategies.

The project of Qatar National Master Plan has developed Qatar National Development Framework 2032 (QNDF), which was approved as a national policy. It introduced many contemporary concepts into the planning and strategies of the country. Together with Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV2030) and its National Development Strategy it was a foundation for any new initiatives.

Initially the new regulations that were developed were temporary and called Interim Zoning Regulations. Their objective was to provide basic development requirements for the rocketing demand. The simplistic approach was easy to implement, but did not reflect the nation’s aspirations to develop a contemporary, efficient and competitive metropolis.

QNDF has put forward a concept of developing centres within the metropolitan area. These were to be aided by the new public transport system, based mainly on new metro lines, which were expected due to winning the FIFA 2022 World Cup hosting rights.

In order to achieve these goals, the QNDF has identified a hierarchical network of centres to allow future growth – from town and city centres to metropolitan and capital city centres. For the whole country a Municipality Spatial Development Plan (MSDP) has been developed. While for the central neighbourhoods, including the new public areas of the stations, there were no special regulations. And the traditional approach to planning did not allow for mixing uses within one lot. Therefore there was a need to develop more complex centre plans and focus on transit oriented development (TOD) around the new metro stations, which are currently under construction by Qatar Rail. TOD sites were also addressed in a new masterplanning process with the developer. Currently a more advanced regulations for the Capital City Centres are prepared, including form based regulation to shape the existing and future form.

The presentation explains the evolution of planning in Qatar, and the rationale behind the latest approved centre plans. It gives examples of and the experience and comments on which were successful and why. Also reflects critically on items that will need to be revised. It discusses the applicability of such approach in both developed and developing settings.

The presented case study can be useful as a reference point on city growth and regulatory measures to steer these changes in rapidly changing environment. It can also show how to shift from land use based simple zoning into more complex regulations also relating to form. Concepts of mixed use development and private sector involvement are also discussed.

Abstract ID :
ISO621
Submission Type
Draft presentation :
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Associated Sessions

Board Member, Congress Director
,
ISOCARP
Architect Engineer
,
Qatar Ministry of Municipality and Environment
Urban Planner
,
Qatar Ministry of Municipality and Environment

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