Abu Dhabi to introduce policy on affordable housing targets for developers

A new policy that sets affordable housing targets for developers in Abu Dhabi could be introduced before the year-end, says the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council.

Abu Dhabi’s government was studying the policy and the council was waiting for approval, said Falah Al Ahbabi, the council’s director general, on the sidelines of the council’s Developer Forum yesterday.

“I can tell you [it will be] very soon … within a month, hopefully. Because it’s done,” he said.

The new policy will place targets for developers to achieve 20 per cent of affordable homes within new housing schemes.

Mr Al Ahbabi said affordable housing was a major issue for Abu Dhabi, and the council had worked closely with developers on formulating the policy.

“It touches every single detail in affordable housing. Everyone loves it, even the developers,” he said.

Indeed, a number of developers had already started developing affordable housing even before new planning rules were introduced, said Mr Al Ahbabi.

“In the real estate market, they are smart. They know where they are moving. A lot of developers are supplying the market with affordable housing. If you see a demand, of course you are going to go after it,” he said.

In June, Aldar Properties launched Meera Shams Abu Dhabi, one of its first mid-market projects. Apartments at the project are relatively smaller in size, and flexible payment plans have been offered to off-plan buyers.

Yesterday, the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council signed an agreement with 19 developers in the capital for them to share information on new projects that will be recorded in a property database.

Such information includes the unit sizes, sale prices, rental agreements and details about individual occupants, according to Mohamed Al Khadar, the council’s executive director for urban development and sustainability.

He said the data would be used to help the public and private sectors gain a broader understanding of the make-up of existing areas and facilities before any new proposals are drawn up.

For instance, it will allow the council to build a more detailed picture of supply and demand at existing communities and to update this more frequently.

“It’s more to develop a dialogue to share with them how we can serve their planning needs rather than being the planning police,” said Mr Al Khadar.

Sameh Muhtadi, the chief executive of Bloom Holding – one of the 19 developers to sign the agreement with the council – described it as “very important”.

“Any coordination in our field is always welcome. Any visibility to what’s in the pipeline and what the plans are is critical for us to make strategic decisions on where to develop and what to invest,” he said.

Mr Al Ahbabi said the database would improve the accuracy of the council’s reporting on the property market, which he said was important for investors.

“We need to be as transparent as possible,” he said.

The other 18 developers who signed the agreement are: National Investment Corporation, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar), Abu Dhabi Ports, Abu Dhabi Airports, Aldar Properties, Al Qudra Holding, Mubadala Real Estate and Infrastructure, Tamouh Investments, Tourism Development and Investment Company, Manazel Real Estate, International Capital Trading, Reem Investments, Baniyas Investments & Developments, Bunya, Abu Dhabi Capital Group, ZonesCorp, Burooj Properties and Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company.