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Masdar master plans for super-green community given Abu Dhabi approval

Masdar has won planning consent to build thousands of apartments and villas at its super-green Masdar City community in Abu Dhabi.

The government-owned eco-developer said that it had been granted planning consent by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council to build two new phases of its vast master plan close to Abu Dhabi International Airport.

At a press conference at Cityscape Abu Dhabi, Masdar officials said that the UPC had approved detailed master plans for a 637,000 square metres phase 2 of Masdar City, which will include a research and development cluster, 2,000 apartments and a Gems school as well as another 341,000 sq metres phase, which will include 1,000 homes.

Most of the new developments will be built by third-party developers with Mubadala-owned Masdar acting as a master developer.

Masdar said that it expected the new developments to be rated as “Estidama pearl level four" – a super-green rating in a sustainability ranking system set up by the UPC which has never before been reached by a development in the UAE.

At the moment only 5 per cent of the Norman Foster-designed Masdar City master plan has been completed, most of which includes the prestigious Masdar Institute, which specialises in researching renewable technology.

But Masdar said that about 35 per cent of the planned built-up area of the ambitious city would be completed over the coming five years as third party developers start to mobilise.

The US$15 billion to $18bn development, which was first unveiled in 2007 as the world’s first entirely self-sustaining, zero-carbon, zero-waste, car free city, was originally slated to be completed in 2016.

By the end of this year, Masdar was originally envisaged to be housing 40,000 residents and 50,000 workers in super-sustainable surroundings.

But the project was hit hard by the 2008 global financial crisis which effectively put a break on Masdar’s development and forced the developer to redesign the project along more commercial lines, to drop plans to make the development carbon neutral and to invite third party developers to build out large chunks of the city.

Masdar officials now describe the project as “low carbon" rather than “no carbon".

“Essentially what we are trying to do is to reduce the carbon footprint not just of buildings but of entire cities because 75 per cent of greenhouse gases are produced by urban areas," said Anthony Mallows, executive director of Masdar City.

“Low carbon development is among our targets. No developer is able to develop zero carbon because human beings, by our very nature, breathe out carbon."

Earlier this week the Abu Dhabi-based developer Reportage Real Estate broke ground on the first major residential development in Masdar City, Leonardo Residences, a block of 170 apartments close to the Masdar Institute.

Masdar said that 93 per cent of the apartments in the block, which is targeting a minimum 3 Pearl Estidama rating, had been reserved.

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