An area three times the size of Tel Aviv will be required to meet the demand for housing over the coming decade, says TAMA 35 data.
By Zafrir Rinat

An area three times the size of Tel Aviv will be required to meet the demand for housing over the coming decade, according to data that will be presented Tuesday to the National Planning and Building Council.

The space required will use up only one-third of the area that has been designated and approved for housing construction as part of the overall planning, so there will be significant areas left for future housing.

The council will be presented with the findings of a team of planners who followed the implementation of the Interior Ministry’s plan that assesses development until the end of the next decade, known by its acronym as TAMA 35. The council will be able to propose changes to the plan on the basis of the findings of the team of planners. These changes will determine where more areas will be released for construction and what percentage of construction will be permitted.

According to the team’s data, the built-up areas used for housing in Israel presently amount to some 900 square kilometers. During the period 1998-2007, 325,000 housing units were built. One-third were detached homes, mostly in farming or suburban communities. This sort of construction has taken up about 77 percent of the overall growth in housing construction.

On the other hand, many cities have managed to make construction in their area more dense. For example, during the same 10 year period, Netanya increased its population by 14 percent, but its overall built-up area only grew by nine percent.

The central message of the tracking team is that urban areas must continue to become more dense in order to maximize the use of the land and prevent conditions in which construction takes place mostly in suburbs where a lot of land is wasted and the use of cars and not public transport is a necessity.

However, the team of planners also expresses doubt that it will be possible to move in the direction of more dense construction.

“The Israeli public is not yet mature enough for a dynamic urban residential culture and prefers housing that is less dense, more suburban and anything that is new simply because it is new,” they wrote.

As far as the communities in the periphery are concerned, the team recommends that less dense construction be allowed, so that persons currently attracted by detached houses and village communities would find them more attractive.

Regarding the construction of new communities, and especially a new city for the Haredi community, the planning team concludes that this should be avoided as much as possible. They say that ultra-Orthodox cities that are distant from other urban centers will make social integration of such communities more difficult. They also argue that it is possible to provide housing solutions for the Haredim within existing or planned communities.

The team is generally opposed to new towns for the public at large, and this includes isolated farms in the Galilee and the Negev. Their argument: It is simply a waste of land.