Construction Week Newsletter 21st May 2005

Co-ordinating the development mouth with the planning brain

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By  Sean Cronin Published  May 21, 2005

Co-ordinating the development mouth with the planning brain|~|51730189p11-Mario-200.jpg|~||~|Between my apartment in Dubai and the supermarket on the other side of the road is a very busy six-lane highway. To get from one side to the other requires me to walk about 150 metres up one side of the road to the pedestrian crossing, and then another 150 metres down the road on the other side. Of course there is another way. Now and again, when I’m feeling brave, reckless or particularly fatalistic, I’ll make a dash for it. If you make it alive across the first three lanes of traffic, there’s a wire fence in the central reservation to negotiate. Beyond that is Spinneys. . . and freedom. I imagine Steve McQueen felt the same rush of expectation just before he finished up draped over the barbed wire of the Swiss-German border at the end of the Great Escape. While my weekly shopping trip may lack something of the dramatic element of escaping from a German prisoner of war camp, it’s equally as perilous. The point to this seemingly pointless preamble is that planning for the pedestrian has never featured very high up on the agenda of developers in Dubai. The same can also be said for some other countries in the region where the car is king. Now compare this with Europe, where the only problem with pedestrian crossings is that there are too many of them. A recently completed bypass in the English county of Hertfordshire not only included crossings for pedestrians, but also ones for badgers, voles and various other tiny creatures. The engineers even ensured the concrete was lined with wood chippings so the furry little critters wouldn’t get too distressed whenever they decided to visit their relatives living on the other side of the A10 Wadesmill bypass. Surely it can’t be right that a rodent living in a Hertfordshire hedgerow has more rights as a pedestrian than me? To be fair, last week we learned that several new pedestrian bridges will be constructed in Dubai during the next year, which is a good move. The planning message also seems to be getting through to the developers behind the raft of major waterfront schemes planned for Dubai over the next decade. The key message to have emerged from last week’s Waterfront 2005 exhibition was that projects currently in the planning phase need to be supported by adequate infrastructure provision. We’re not just talking about pedestrian crossings here; water and wastewater services — as well as traffic planning — will become increasingly important within the UAE and the GCC as development densities increase. Up until now, the development mouth has been set in motion before the planning brain has been put in gear. That needs to change. ||**||

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