SHARJAH: The Sharjah Urban Planning Council (SUPC) is all set to make the emirate a safer and more sustainable place for communities to reside, thanks to new guidelines it has issued on architectural design.

“Improved street and public realm design standards will lead to happier and more fulfilled communities. Mothers will be more at peace when they send their children out to play, seniors will be more comfortable navigating the streets when they venture out on their own and roadworks will be more streamlined,” Eng Khaled Al Ali, SUPC secretary general, said at a recent workshop where the ‘Sharjah Architectural Design Guidelines’ were announced.

The guidelines prioritise the comfort and safety of pedestrians, cyclists and other community users who have special needs and requirements, with an overarching aim to transform Sharjah into a healthy, safe, happy and sustainable city.

Shaikh Khalid Bin Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, SUPC chairman, said: “The initiative is the beginning of a new chapter in the emirate’s holistic development plans led by His Highness Shaikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, who always prioritises the needs of the people. The goal of this ambitious initiative is to fulfil the growing needs of the new ways of life pursued by people in Sharjah, by creating a public realm that is inclusive, practical, pleasing and safe, and supports healthy and active lifestyles.”

Additional elements incorporated into the new guidelines is the introduction of ‘smart streets’ into the emirate, with unique characteristics and features that promote sustainability and eco-friendly technologies, as well as an integrated network promoting efficient mobility and accessibility of roads and neighbourhoods.

Eng. Al Ali said: “The initiative will be implemented over six stages, of which four are complete. The upcoming fifth and sixth stages will include the complete refinement and finalisation of the guideline manual, which will be introduced to Sharjah as a benchmark for infrastructural road works and public realm projects, and rolled out in full by June 2019.”

By 2030, SUPC seeks to fuel Sharjah’s efforts to realise three UN Sustainable Development Goals, namely, SDG Goal n. 11.2.1, which aims to increase the proportion of population that has convenient access to public transport, by gender, age and persons with disabilities; SDG Goal n.11.3, which seeks to provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations; and SDG Goal n.11.7, under which it will provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces.