The Homs Governorate has finished amending zoning plans for four areas: Al-Qusayr, Al-Rastan, Al-Quryatayn, and Palmyra, and has sent the amended plans to the Ministry of Public Works and Housing for study and approval, according to official governorate statements.
A zoning plan is the mechanism through which the laws and decrees related to the process of regulating and developing real estate and removing informal housing areas are implemented. If those plans are not implemented, then they are meant to be re-announced every three years. Each time, people may submit objections to the plans. Under the provisions of Legislative Decree No. 5 of 1982, also known as the Urban Planning Law, an administrative unit may add amendments to a zoning plan in accordance with the public interest.
These towns and cities in the Homs Governorate have faced widespread destruction during the war, while many of their residents were forcibly displaced. But destruction and displacement are not their only commonality; the final zoning plans are set to be issued for all of them in accordance with Law No. 10 of 2018. The law says that one or more organisational zones may be established within the general zoning plans of an administrative unit.
Palmyra: The historic city of Palmyra, also known as Tadmur, is located in the desertous Badia area east of the city of Homs. Regime forces and fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) captured and lost the city a number of times, displacing most of its residents and causing massive destruction. Since the regime’s final recapture of Palmyra in 2017, the city council has announced studies of detailed zoning plans for some neighbourhoods, including the informal housing area opposite the historic citadel and the old city council area.
Al-Qusayr: The Lebanese Shia militia Hezbollah seized the border city of Al-Qusayr in 2013 after intense battles against opposition factions that were previously entrenched there. The city witnessed massive destruction. Most residents were forcibly displaced, while Hezbollah now prevents their return home. The zoning plan for Al-Qusayr was first issued in October 2018, though the objections period was only open for one month. Most displaced residents were unable to view the plan in order to present potential objections. This zoning plan was the first practical implementation of Law No. 10, although it has not been approved.
Al-Rastan: Al-Rastan is located in the northern countryside of the Homs Governorate and was under opposition control from 2013 to 2018. The city was subject to a reconciliation agreement that saw the displacement of residents who refused to reconcile with the regime. Al-Rastan has an old zoning plan that underwent study in 1990 and was approved in 1994. Then in 2000, the plan was studied once again because it was inconsistent with construction in the city. However, no amendments have been issued since then. The Al-Rastan City Council announced in 2020 that it had issued a new zoning plan and called on rights holders to review it and submit objections within a timeframe of one year.
Al-Qaryatayn: This town is located in the eastern part of the Homs Governorate, at the edge of the Badia region. The town changed hands between the regime and the ISIS, with regime forces finally capturing it in 2017 following battles that left vast destruction in their wake. There is no information available on the town’s old zoning plans or the new amendment.