Abu Dhabi planner eases the way for pedestrians

New design manual facilitates creation of more pleasant walkways.

Mohamed Al Khadar, Executive Director of Development Review & Estidama, UPC.
Mohamed Al Khadar, Executive Director of Development Review & Estidama, UPC.

Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council believes pedestrians will benefit from a new set of guidelines for the installation of underground utilities in the Emirate’s urban developments.

The Utility Corridors Design Manual (UCDM), launched by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC), aims to reduce the distances pedestrians have to walk, by making more efficient use of the space below street level.

It provides planners, developers and engineers with clear guidelines for the exact location and width of underground ‘corridors’ for utilities such as water pipes, stormwater drainage, power cables, fibre-optic cables, sewage pipes, and district cooling systems beneath new streets across the Emirate.

Arranging these corridors into a narrower configuration will enable developers to design more pedestrian-friendly streets, with shorter distances to walk, UPC claims. The UCDM also oversees the provision of corridors for trees, streetlights and landscaping above new streets.

“The launch of the UCDM is another milestone for the UPC. In line with the requirements of Vision 2030, it will ensure that utility corridors are efficiently planned underground, which in turn will create more attractive and walkable streets aboveground for the benefit of pedestrians,” said Mohamed Al Khadar, Executive Director of Development Review & Estidama, UPC.

“The UCDM will be added to our suite of planning policies, regulations, guidelines and manuals that drive our Complete Sustainable Communities initiative forward for the creation of more comfortable, liveable and sustainable communities.”

To produce the manual, the UPC collaborated with a number of stakeholders, including the Department of Municipal Affairs, Abu Dhabi City Municipality, Al Ain City Municipality, Western Region Municipality, Abu Dhabi Police, Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council and the Department of Transport, as well as utility companies and service providers.

Designed to complement the standards and guidelines set out in the Abu Dhabi Urban Street Design Manual v1.1 (USDM), launched by the UPC in 2012, and the Public Realm Design Manual (PRDM), launched in 2011, the new provisions will help to improve the lives of pedestrians by creating more attractive and walkable streets.

Studies have shown that there is typically a 25% reduction in the Right of Way (RoW) when the UCDM, in conjunction with the USDM is used to design street layouts. Furthermore, a financial evaluation completed in November 2012 of the design of new streets and the retrofitting of existing streets demonstrated a 7% to 23% cost saving.

The Manual applies to new developments in urban areas covered by the UPC’s regional framework plans: Plan Capital 2030, Plan Al Ain 2030, and Plan Al Gharbia 2030. Its provisions may be applied retrospectively, as and when the need arises to carry out revitalisation of existing streets.
Another of its aims is to reduce the duration of works to install or repair underground utilities, thereby minimising traffic problems and disruption to services.

The UCDM guidelines will be incorporated in projects in areas including Al Shawamekh, Al Shamkha, parts of Baniyas, Sector Z35 in Mohamed Bin Zayed City, and master plans such as the North Wathba Master Plan, and Sila'a, Delma and Ghayathi in Al Gharbia.

To download a copy of the Utility Corridors Design Manual, click here.


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