Planned Suburb North of Damascus Receives Construction Licence

The Syrian government approved a request at the end of October to construct a new residential suburb north of Damascus, 12 years after a request for permission was first submitted.

The Eamar Syria Joint Association (ESJA) obtained the licence for a residential suburb in the Dummar expansion zone in accordance with Urban Zoning Decree No. 5 of 1982 and its amendments. ESJA has said that it will be the first housing association in Syria to implement a comprehensive residential suburb.

In an apparent justification for the delay, the official Al-Thawra newspaper reported that the approval came after the ESJA completed procedures for licensing the project and obtained the necessary permissions from the Damascus Countryside Governorate. Meanwhile, the ESJA said delays in approval for the project were due to general conditions in Syria, as well as delays in obtaining official approvals. On its website, the group listed 12 prior approvals that it had obtained within the framework of licensing the project. They included approvals from six government ministries, including the Ministry of Defence.

The Dummar expansion zone is located within the administrative boundaries of the Dummar area, although outside the zoning plans of the so-called Dummar project, a modern and relatively upscale residential suburb northwest of Damascus. The area set aside for the project extends over 53 hectares of land, reaching south of the Qudsaya suburb in the Damascus Countryside Governorate. The project will see 39 towers constructed, with a capacity of 5,000 housing units, provided that the maximum land over which they can build is 12 percent of the total land.

The ESJA was established in 2007, in partnership between the Sons of Syria Association and the April 17 Housing Association, in accordance with Cooperative Housing Law No. 17 of that same year. The law was later repealed by Legislative Decree No. 99 of 2011, concerning housing cooperatives. In both laws, articles pertaining to joint associations have not changed, stipulating that a joint association has the right to purchase land and equip it with facilities and service buildings to construct housing for the benefit of its participant associations.

While the scope of a housing association’s work is confined to its administrative area, the joint association may purchase lands outside the zoning area to construct residential suburbs, so long as the area of those lands is not less than 25 hectares, according to Decree No. 16 of 2007 issued by the prime minister.

The ESJA first announced its Dummar residential suburb project in 2008, adding that it had contracted to purchase the necessary land, without specifying from whom they bought the land rights. Later, the group announced that it would break ground on the project in 2013, as soon as approvals were completed. It added in 2012 that housing units would be ready for subscribers two years after the start of construction.

The ESJA had collected SYP 500,000 from each subscriber as a down payment since its first announcement of the project. It is not clear whether the association had, at a previous stage, stopped receiving new subscribers for the project, but in 2018 the ESJA announced that it was opening the door for subscriptions yet again. Currently, the down payment is SYP 2 million.