Advancing on plans to develop commercial zones in residential areas, the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (MMUP) has announced nine specific locations to try out the new concept.
In Doha, they are: Doha Jadeed St. and Al Nada Street, in Doha Jadeed; Al Wefaq Street in Old Ghanem; Raudat Al Hail (Nuaika east and west); Bin Khaldoon Street in Umm Ghiwailina; and Madinat Khalifa Street in Madinat Khalifa North.
And in neighboring Al Rayyan, the streets include Al Murra, Al Faroosia and Othman bin Affan in Al Azizia.
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Qatar has been discussing installing commercial zones in local neighborhoods for more than a year, as a substitute for the 7,000+ corner shops that are currently sprinkled across the nation, which apparently flout zoning laws.
The licenses for such shops were supposed to expire in September 2012, but operators were given a last-minute extension through July 2014.
Then in September, the Cabinet decided to grant the shops a new, three-year extension, to give the government enough time to relocate neighborhood grocery stores, barber shops and other small businesses into purpose-built “commercial complexes.”
The MMUP has not given a timeline for establishing these new neighborhood commercial zones, but baqalas now have at least until 2016 to operate. The shops are popular with residents because they are open at convenient times, are within walking distance and also offer home delivery.
According to the Peninsula, the commercial zones could also house engineering, audit and legal consultants, who can’t afford to rent offices elsewhere. But if that happens, there could a knock-on effect in terms of housing rents, the newspaper states:
Analysts say that while the announcement to develop commercial hubs is good news for businesses, they would lead to large-scale demolition of lower-rent residential buildings.
A rising population is already causing shortage of affordable housing in the country so the latest development plans would worsen the shortages and push housing rents further up.