Spatial Planning and Policy in Israel

Spatial Planning and Policy in Israel

The Cases of Netanya and Umm al-Fahm You do not have access to this content

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14 Aug 2017
9789264277366 (PDF) ;9789264277359(print)

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This report examines spatial planning and policies in Israel. It describes the laws, policies and practices in the country as a whole, and provides a detailed assessment of arrangements and practices in two cities: Netanya, a fast-growing city on the Mediterranean coast; and Umm al-Fahm, the country’s third-largest city with a predominantly Arab population. Israel recently carried out a major reform of its land-use planning system, largely to address a housing shortage that has become critical. Detailed case studies highlight the trends and challenges faced in both cities and describe how policies designed at the national level affect local land-use issues. The report offers recommendations on how to strengthen the effectiveness of the spatial planning system and related policies to ensure that land is used in an effective and sustainable way.


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  • Foreword and acknowledgements

    How land is used affects a wide range of factors, from day-to-day quality of life factors, such as the availability of food and clean water and the length of daily commutes, to the long-term sustainability of urban and rural communities, including the possibility for climate change adaptation and mitigation. How governments regulate land use and address public and private investment, how competencies are allocated across levels of government, and how land use is taxed, are critical for all of these things and more.

  • Acronyms and abbreviations
  • Executive summary

    In 2011, hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets to protest the rising cost of living. Real house prices and rental prices had been increasing steadily and rapidly: 80% and almost 40%, respectively, between 2008 and 2016. In comparison, real average wages rose by less than 4% over the same period. The surge in housing prices had been driven in part by slow and rigid regulatory procedures that had not allowed the housing supply to keep up with the strong demand. The accumulated housing shortfall was estimated at 100 000 residential units with the expectation of a further increase as the population grew.

  • Assessment and recommendations

    The regulation of land use in Israel is anchored in a centralised top-down planning system that underwent major reforms since 2011. The need for reform was driven by slow and rigid planning procedures that, in combination with macroeconomic circumstances and continuous population growth, could not accommodate the high demand for housing, thus contributing to a significant housing shortage. As a result, house and rental prices were increasing steadily: 80% and almost 40%, respectively, between 2008 and 2016. In contrast, real average wages increased only by 4% over the same period. In 2011, thousands of people protested against the rapid increases in cost of living, which steered the national government’s focus towards addressing the undersupply of housing. At present, the housing challenge is addressed in two parallel approaches: first, ongoing reform processes aim to eliminate structural deficiencies in the planning system; and second, the introduction of short- to medium-term programmes that allow a quick increase in housing supply complemented by the development of a long term housing strategy.

  • Land use and spatial planning in Israel

    The chapter provides the national context for the case studies of Netanya and Umm al-Fahm. It offers an overview of the institutional frameworks and relationships that govern the spatial planning system in Israel. These include the major pieces of legislation that define the planning system. Recent advances towards a more efficient and flexible spatial planning system are described in the context of relevant OECD experiences.

  • The housing crisis in Israel as catalyst for policy reforms

    The chapter sets the need of reform of the regulatory system into the context of the housing crisis. It offers an overview of recent trends in the housing market in Israel. The emergence of the housing deficit is described together with immediate policy responses from the national government. The chapter concludes with identifying some key challenges of the introduced policies.

  • Land use and spatial planning in Netanya, Israel

    This chapter provides a case study of the governance of land use in Netanya. It describes the major socio-economic features of the city and recent developments of land-use planning. The new developed vision for the city is described and major challenges facing plan implementation are reviewed.

  • Land use and spatial planning in Umm al-Fahm, Israel

    This chapter provides a case study of the governance of land use in Umm al-Fahm. It describes the major socio-economic features of the city and recent developments of land-use planning. The final section details the major land-use pressures facing the city and its challenges in implementing its land-use plan.

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