Planning Agency Set to Decide on Future of Haifa Port

Plan calls for parts of port to be redeveloped into an entertainment and commercial zone, providing better links to the city’s beaches.

Albatross Aerial Photography

The National Planning and Building Council will discuss Tuesday whether to approve the plan to redevelop part of Haifa Port into an entertainment and commercial zone . It is seen as one of the most important plans for developing the northern city and reestablishing its links with its beaches.

The new plan, which is called the Seafront Plan, marks a change in the National Master Plan for the beaches. At the center of the plan is removal of part of the western section of port-related activity, except for a passenger port and the opening of piers and storage facilities for urban and tourist activity.

The cessation of regular port activity there would take place gradually. At the same time, the area would be developed as a place for entertainment and commerce.

A promenade would also be built along the waterfront, from the western area of the port to the Bat Galim neighborhood to the south. The promenade will be connected to urban areas at the rear of the port, including Jaffa Street and the port campus area. The crossing points will be overpasses, because of the railway line that runs there.

The port’s storage areas would then be used for commerce and entertainment. They would be converted into public and cultural areas, as has happened to the hangars in the Jaffa and Tel Aviv ports in recent years. A new entry would be built for the port, to serve as its main gate from the direction of Ben-Gurion Boulevard, which is the main tourist route in Haifa.

According to the plan, the railway line would also be lowered, giving the public a direct link between the port and the city.

Several objections were filed as part of the approval procedure, including some from the Israel Ports Company and planners and architects in Haifa.

The Interior Ministry appointed architect Renana Yardeni to examine the objections, and Yardeni has completed her report on the topic. It also will be presented to the planning council. She rejected most of the objections, except for changes in some of the planning orders.

The Israel Ports Company claimed in its objection that the western section of the working port would be closed without a replacement area being designated, and this would harm both the port’s revenues and its employees’ income. Yardeni rejected this, noting that an alternative area for the port has already been approved and partially constructed.

Several architects and planners claimed that the current railway line must be removed completely to avoid creating a buffer zone between the revamped port area and the rest of the city, and that the overpasses were artificial links. Yardeni said the Seafront Plan did not rule out the possibility of lowering the railway tracks, and that the overpasses were a vital link.