Thursday, February 09, 2006

reBlog: Residential Flat Licenses Scrapped

LYM has posted on a topic which I had been wanting to write about for a while. I ended up putting my entire argument in my replies to her post so I'm going to cut and paste from it here.

The issue:
the Ministry of Housing, Electricity and Water has made a decision to scrap all former approvals for building residential flats- on plots of residential lands (not commercial ones). The deadline was set to be on the 31st October 2007. The reason of this act is to so-called ‘organize residential planning by defining usages of lands’.
LYM's opinion:
I personally don’t see that the reason justifies this action. Individuals have planned for so long to build flats as a form of an investment and now that ‘dream’ is being shut down without a proper validation. First of all, flats are very similar to a villa in a way except for the infrastructure. I don’t see how building a flat will inhibit ‘organizing residential planning by defining usages of lands’ if it is actually very similar to a villa- in size, appearance, or usage. Secondly, I see this as a setback. By this decision the government is limiting the citizens’ choices in the way they could use their lands. I know many parents who want to build so many flats to accommodate their kids and secure them in a ‘home’ in which they could call theirs. How could they do that now?

My opinion:
  • The scrapping of residential flat licenses is an excellent decision and long delayed. I even think it should have been a complete and immediate one, not a prolonged scrapping going on into 2007.
  • People who buy a regular residential plot of 400 or 600 meters that's supposed to be used for building a house should not be allowed to build 2 or 3 storey small building with 4 or 6 flats. Apartment flats should only be built on residential/commercial plots or plots which have specific approval for building of flats, not in normal residential areas. The decision on whether to allow the building of an apartment flat should be based on factors such as the size the of the plot, the present use of the area, what kind of properties already exist in the area, the building density in the area, etc.
  • Areas which were initially zoned as a family residences have been turned into areas where mostly single people are going to live. Most of these buildings don't have parking within the plot so every building will have at least 4 to 6 six cars parked outside. The areas will end up having lots of movements with people coming and going. Families that had built houses in those areas will end up suffering from the noise and the lack of privacy. The streets aren't safe for kids to play anymore.
  • If people start renting these small flats and turning them into offices. It will become a nightmare.
  • All countries have zoning laws that limit how you can use your land. I don't think any country tells you once you buy a land you can do anything you want with it. For example in the UK when you go to a residential area you will usually see perfect rows of equal height houses. Here in Oman you can have a one storey house and your neighbor can build a 3 floor apartment building next to you. That's not right. In some areas single storey houses are now surrounded by apartment buildings from 3 sides.


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