Construction to Crowd Israeli Beachfront in Coming Years, Says Top Green NGO

Report by Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel says much open space to disappear on coast from Bat Yam to Herzliya.

Beach construction continues as long as the authorites allow it to.
Nir Kafri

The beachfront in the Tel Aviv area, from Herzliya in the north to Bat Yam in the south, will change radically over the next few years, and a large part of the remaining open spaces will disappear and be replaced by construction. Thus states a new report released by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel that analyzes building plans along the coast in the Tel Aviv area.

The report was prepared by planners from the group’s Tel Aviv community, and it surveys 22 centers with various construction plans along and near the beaches. Only six of the plans were described as improving the protection of the beach areas and making them more accessible.

Most of the planned building is concentrated in the northern part of the area, from Herzliya to the Sde Dov airport in northern Tel Aviv. One of the plans includes the expansion to the north of the Sea and Sun project. Recently a plan was advanced for the area that includes three-story buildings, and the plan is scheduled to be approved soon by the planning committees. The area was approved for such construction in principle almost 30 years ago, and today is part of the open seaside cliffs.

Among the other problematic plans cited in the report are a huge plan for 12,000 residential units in southern Herzliya, which is supposed to reach its final stages of approval this year in the regional planning and building committee. The plan preserves a 300-meter wide strip of open space along the shore, but allows large-scale development in the rest of the area.

Not all is bleak

The report notes the existence of a number of positive plans, including opening new beaches to the public by extending the boardwalk, and including the public in planning a beachfront park in north Tel Aviv. But the SPNI calls to introduce more environmental considerations in the plans, reduce construction along the boardwalk in Herzliya and not to allow additional construction for residential towers and hotels. The group also calls to declare an area of the sea off the Jaffa shore near the Givat Aliya neighborhood as a national park.

Another major plan is for the Sde Dov airport after it is closed down. The airport has plans for 10,000 housing units and is in its final stages of preparation by the Tel Aviv municipality. It includes the possibility of building a marina.

Other plans include expanding the Herzliya boardwalk, and adding cafes and toilets. The SPNI fears this plan will encroach on the beach, but city hall says it will actually improve access for the public to the beach.

Other plans cited include high-rise towers in Tel Aviv and Bat Yam, for residential and hotel use. These would not only gobble up open spaces, they will block the sun and sea breeze in many areas. In addition, the SPNI is worried that some of the hotel space will actually be converted into residential use.

Another problematic plan is intended to build a drainage pipe to collect flood water from the Ayalon stream and drain into the Mediterranean Sea in Jaffa. This plan is now being examined by the National Infrastructures Committee, and is supposed to solve flooding problems that will be caused by the new train tracks along the Ayalon stream.