Login | Register
29/06/2015

Past RTPI presidents urge new approach to planning in occupied West Bank

Words: Laura Edgar

Past presidents of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) have united to endorse a UN-Habitat report urging a fresh look at planning in the occupied West Bank that, they argue, could contribute to peace building in the region.

The 18 former presidents, led by chair of the reporting group, Cliff Hague, have jointly signed a letter supporting the findings of the International Advisory Board of experienced planners from the UK, Germany, South Africa and Toronto.

The letter, sent to The Planner, says the report "explains how planning is being used to block development and impede much-needed infrastructure investment in Palestinian villages, while facilitating the construction of Israeli settlements which are illegal under international law".

It continues: "As experienced planners we are concerned at planning being used in this discriminatory way. We assert the need for planning practices to be fair, inclusive and enabling, and to be used as a means of building trust within and between communities."

The report has this week been handed to Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah and local government minister Nayef Abu Khalaf.

The study arose after the planners were requested by UN Habitat to consider why few Local Outline Plans prepared for Palestianian communities in the disputed 'Area C' of the occupied West Bank were receiving approval from the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA). Since 2011, around 100 plans have been prepared by Palestinian planners and three have received approval. the group, led by Cliff Hague, "sampled" ten of the plans and found they were "technically sound and adequately specify future land uses and roads, among other infrastructure".

With just three of the plans approved in four years, the group found that much of the development taking place in the area was "unauthorised and at risk of demolition". As a result, poor and vulnerable people are at risk of eviction and loss of livelihood, the report claims. The group found that, by contrast, Israeli settlements are "speedily" authorised.

The group has put forward several recommendations, including ICA working with local authorities to improve the approval process, shifting the focus of plans towards development challenges and opportunities, and completing the National Spatial Plan for Palestine.

Measures such as these could help drive a "transition from occupation, as a step in the peace-building process."

You can read more information about the report on the UN Habitat website and the full text of the letter below.


Letter to The Planner from 18 past RTPI Presidents

Dear Sir
 
We write to draw attention to the recent report to UN-Habitat on planning in the West Bank (http://unhabitat.org/planning-needs-to-change-in-the-occupied-west-bank-un-habitat/). The report  gives the findings of an International Advisory Board of experienced planners, led by RTPI past president Cliff Hague. It explains how planning is being used to block development and impede much needed infrastructure investment in Palestinian villages, while facilitating the construction of Israeli settlements which are illegal under international law.
 
As experienced planners we are concerned at planning being used in this discriminatory way. We assert the need for planning practices to be fair, inclusive and enabling, and to be used as a means of building trust within and between communities.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Martin Bradshaw, Past President, RTPI
 
Jim Claydon, Past President, RTPI
 
Nick Davies, Past President, RTPI 
 
Peter Fidler, Past President, RTPI 
 
Jed Griffiths, Past President, RTPI
 
Cliff Hague, Past President, RTPI
 
Michael Haslam, Past President, RTPI
 
Mike Hayes, Past President, RTPI
 
Colin Haylock, Past President, RTPI 
 
Hazel McKay, Past President, RTPI
 
Kevin Murray, Past President, RTPI
 
Janet O’Neill, Past President, RTPI 
 
Trevor Roberts, Past President, RTPI
 
Chris Shepley, Past President, RTPI
 
Tony Struthers, Past President, RTPI
 
Ron Tate, Past President, RTPI 
 
Andrew Thorburn, Past President, RTPI
 
Martin Willey, Past President, RTPI

Tags