6. The concept of Community Spatial Planning Unit- CSPU:
Not only spatial hierarchy is vital for the organization of the spatial structure of the built environment, but it is of great importance for enhancing social interaction and satisfaction and improving the way of living of the population through the improvement of services and facilities provided to them. And in this regard, there is a need to consider the Community Spatial Planning Unit- CSPU as the main component of the spatial plan and a base for the organization and coordination of its parts. Objectives CSPU include:
- § To ensure that a residential community is properly served by the right number, size and type services and facilities including schools, parks, mosques, shops, clinics and so forth.
- § To distribute these facilities, as far as possible, in a manner that will both be convenient and give a sense of identity at the local and district level.
7. Khan younis master plan:
Khan Younis city has been suffering for long from the absence of a suitable master plan due to periods of instability, war, conflict, occupation and uncertainty since the beginning of the 20th century . In 1922, the city had a population of about 3890 inhabitants settling around the city center. The first master plan was prepared in 1946 during the British Mandate period. By that date, the population was about 12,350 inhabitants and the area of the city was 2770 acres (figure 9). This plan was not appropriate to the needs of the city, especially after the flood of the Palestinian refugees erupted into the city in 1948 which thence came under an Egyptian military administration. Afterwards, the city developed with an irregular pattern in different directions, especially in Khan Younis refugee camp, which was prepared to house the refugees. This random development and the lack of any kind of suitable planning or development controls continued until the end of the Egyptian regime in 1967 and the start of the Israeli occupation. The 1946 master plan remained in force until 1991. The new plan has been prepared to serve Israeli interests, especially for security and military purposes, and to save land for Israeli settlements around the city (figure 10). The master plan was nothing but only a nice document on a shelf in the offices city mayor and the Israeli military governor. In 1998, with the newly formed Palestinian national authority, a new master plan was prepared by the staff of Khan Younis municipal council, Khamis Reshwan, Hatem Abu El Taief, Akram El Ammasi, Eman El Attar,and United Nations Volunteers, Patricia Costa, Jose Negri, Fernando Murillo, and White helmet Initiative. The new master plan and had an area of 52000 acres with 152,000 inhabitants and the year 2015 as its target (Figure 11).
The new master plan attempted to provide moderate solutions to some of the critical problems facing the city:
- § Traffic congestion especially in city center.
- § Random development.
- § Encroachments of Israeli settlements in the west.
- § The need to protect agricultural land.
- § Difficulties to access costal zones as a result of inadequate roads.
- § Overcrowding in the refugee camp.
- § The deterioration of city center.
After the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza Strip in 2005, evacuated settlements were added to the master plan which also expanded to the south east and this required additional services for these areas Figure (12).
The master plan has no indication to any structured spatial hierarchies. This is considered one of the main factors for the lack of organization and order and this in turn created severe problems in the city in terms of its urban character, adequacy of services and quality of urban life.
Figure (9): Khan Younis master plan 1946
Source: Municipality of Khan Younis
The master plan is a tool to organize the city and improve life conditions for its inhabitants, make the city more viable and more socially interactive. The concept of spatial hierarchy of residential communities helps to organize the master plan. It also provides fair distribution for services and social commercial, educational, medical, and recreation facilities.
Community Spatial Planning Unit- CSPU represent a guide for the development of new communities and their relationship to older ones and for remedying deficiencies in the existing provision or distribution of facilities. Unfortunately, Khan Younis master plan lacks any provision for spatial hierarchy and deals with the city space as merely an area for land use distribution and new roads extensions. This in turn severely affect the quality and efficiency of urban services in the city.
There is a desperate need for Khan Younis master plan to consider the spatial hierarchy as the main principle in for the organization of the spatial structure of the city. The concept of Community Spatial Planning Unit- CSPU helps the master plan to establish and reinforce communities with distinct physical identities. It also builds recognizably distinct geographical edges formed by natural and man-made barriers, vibrant activity centers or community focal points, and pre-determined, ultimate physical size constraints.
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