The development process for new residential neighbourhoods in the Sultanate of Oman
Al-Muttawa, Mohammed Ali
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The development process for new residential neighbourhoods in the Sultanate of Oman is moving very slowly, and the majority of the residential and public facilities and serviced land plots distributed do not meet long term planning objectives. This research aims to achieve a clearer understanding of the obstacles affecting the development process in new residential neighbourhoods, to suggest some practical solutions to improve them. These issues, in general relate to the housing policy system, land use design layout regulations, and the implementation of public facilities and services. Thus, the research has adopted a mixed method, drawing on secondary data collected from existing literature, reports, and primary data collected by interviewing housing sector professionals, conducting citizen questionnaires and performing site visit observations at selected distributed new residential neighbourhoods. The findings show that the housing policy system mostly targets individual citizens not households, while failing to offer strategic spatial plans or approved land use design standards for designing new residential neighbourhoods. Furthermore, implementation of public facilities and services takes place after the construction of distributed residential land plots, in accordance with government organisations’ budgeting and planning. The research analysis and discussion conclude with some practical recommendations to policy makers to improve the implementation development process for new residential neighbourhoods. Recommendations include altering the housing policy system to targets households, by granting residential land plots or completed house units and offering subsidised housing loans administrated by the government and delivered by the private sector. Designs for new residential neighbourhoods should utilise strategic spatial plans and approved land use design standards. Implementation of key public facilities and services should take place prior to the distribution of residential land plots, in coordination with Ministry of Housing and municipal councils and financed by a partnership between government and private sector. It is hoped that the research recommendations will contribute to ongoing improvements to the development process for new residential neighbourhoods in the sultanate of Oman.