On November 27, 2022, the Syrian President issued Decree No. 308, which permits the Yabroud City Council in Rural Damascus governorate to establish a new industrial zone under the Planning and Urban Development Law No. 23 of 2015.
Published in the Official Gazette, the decree lists the real estate properties to be included as part of the Yabroud No. 11/26 real estate zone. The decree also gives the city council the powers to implement chapter two of Law No. 23/2015 on zoning, which enables local authorities to partition the land into zoned plots. These plots are pieces of land resulting from the partitioning or zoning of a larger property.
The zoning process can apply to areas that fall within any of the following scenarios:
- Areas impacted by natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods;
- Areas damaged by war or fires;
- Areas that are impacted by zoning plans undergoing urban expansion;
- Areas in which local authorities want to implement general and detailed zoning plans.
This last scenario is currently underway in Yabroud’s planned new industrial zone.
As for the size of the industrial zone, official statements have contradicted one another. A board member of the Damascus and Rural Damascus Chamber of Industry told the state-owned Al-Thawra Newspaper in 2019 that the industrial zone would span 77 hectares, while the head of the Department of Industry at the Rural Damascus governorate told that same newspaper in 2020 that it would be only 18 hectares. In yet another statement, the director of the Chamber of Industry’s Qalamoun office told the state-run SANA news agency in August 2022 that the industrial zone would be around 150 hectares.
A source from Yabroud’s city council told The Syria Report’s local correspondent that around 150 hectares of real estate had been allocated for implementing the industrial zone under Decree No. 308. The source added that the new zone would be located just east of the old one, closer to the Damascus-Homs international highway.
According to an industrialist from Yabroud, the industrial zone project dates back to 2001. The new zone will aim at hosting bigger factories.
Law No. 23 grants local administrative units the power to deduct, without compensation, part of the real estate areas included within the zoning plan, provided these areas are used for public benefit. In rural areas, up to 40 percent of the site can be deducted, a process expected to happen in the case of the Yabroud industrial zone.
In addition, Law No. 23 establishes three successive committees: one for initial appraisal, another for dispute resolution and a third for compulsory land readjustment. The initial appraisal committee estimates the value of the real estate in the area before zoning begins. The dispute resolution committee’s job is to examine claims of ownership over those real estate properties and any disputes between owners. Finally, the compulsory land readjustment committee distributes the land plots to rights holders after zoning.
Compulsory land readjustment occurs when a plot of land is prepared for construction per the zoning plans. During this process, rights holders are not entitled to choose the location of their plots. Under Law No. 23, a zoned real estate area is a legal entity that takes the place of all former property owners and rights holders in that area; zoning work concludes with the distribution of the newly zoned properties to rights holders according to their shares.