By Querubin J. Minas
JEDDAH – Amid massive ongoing infrastructure and high rise construction projects in Jeddah, industry players are calling for a review of the existing Jeddah City development master plan so as to appropriately address the “mismatch between projects and target users.”
Property investments in Jeddah are currently estimated at SR200 billion, with the ongoing plans to construct a number of high-rise buildings such as the planned structures as high as 350m along the Jeddah Corniche to encourage more developments.
Despite this, private developers believe that risks and problems persist, like traffic congestion, sewerage and drainage bottlenecks and inordinate population density.
On the sidelines of the Jeddah Expansion Summit 2012 held at Park Hyatt Hotel Tuesday, Hani A. Kayal, Chief Operating Officer, Hadia Abdul Latif Jameel Co. Ltd, told the Saudi Gazette that there is a strong need to “revisit” the current Jeddah master plan and “total review of policies” pertaining to planning, design and construction of buildings and related infrastructure, to include inflationary factors.
The cost of land, the cost of developing infrastructure and other factors such as the high per capita consumption of energy and water are to be weighed, too.
He maintained that “vertical needs should be added to the urban mix.”
Kayal said space efficiency issues had to be addressed, particularly the preference of Saudis for large residential spaces. This was unsustainable in Jeddah as it faced a growing demand for affordable housing, he added.
A proper solution should be reached to tackle the mounting demand for affordable housing facilities. He said a scheme should be introduced to provide low-cost housing to those whose monthly income is only SR5,000. There has to be a balance in the development between urban and low-density areas, Kayal further said.
Moreover, he called for consultations between the city planners and private developers to thresh out problems and challenges that might arise in the implementation of projects.
“We have to b e one team with one target and execute the plan together,” Kayal asserted.
He also sought for the protection of developers for the loss and damage that arise from contract violations, saying that laws should be strictly enforced to exact compliance.
John Spitz, senior VP and Saudi Arabia regional manager for Hill International, said that residential high-rises in Jeddah were likely to be six to eight storeys. He added that housing for expat professionals was “outdated” and “inadequate.”
Jeremy Lester, the CEO of Grocon, said: “Significant overcapacity in the marketplace is keeping construction prices down.”