The complexity of issues involved in planning Eilat’s coastline, together with the multitude of factors and interests, has resulted in a prolonged planning process lasting an entire decade. The planners sought to arrive at a plan that will bridge the gap between conflicting interests and create a wide common ground shared by the authorities and various organizations.
The central principle guiding the planners was to give preference to land uses requiring proximity to the coast over those for which this is not necessarily essential, with an emphasis on bathing beaches. All this was done in accordance with the overall spirit of NOP 13 and the principles laid out in the instructions of the National Planning Council for the preparation of the plan. In addition to the coastal area, NOP 13 extends 500 m into the waters from the coastline.
The plan defines three categories of land use:
1. Recreational uses for which proximity to the sea constitutes a clear advantage The plan allocates wide areas for bathing beaches, recreational facilities, tourism and hotels, including areas today occupied by the defense forces and the oil port, which it designates to become in the future as open beaches and for other uses suited to their location.
2. Ports and engineering requiring proximity to the sea Within this category the plan decided upon the relocation of the military port from its present location and its unification with the civilian port, a move which saves space and increases the efficiency of land use along the coastline.
3. Natural values, coral reefs on the coastline of Eilat.
The southern section of the plan emphasizes conservation and extensive development. The plan designates the area to the south of the Coral Beach as a space concentrating principally landscape values and environmental conservation and in which development is limited. In accordance the main development of Eilat will be to the east, in the area of the eastern lagoon and the Eilat salt flats.
The plan includes special reference to the city of Eilat and its connection with the sea. The plan determines that the urban areas, principally the new areas to the south of the city, will have open axes and views of the coast, creating a city facing the sea, avoiding physical and visual barriers between the city and the water.
In addition the plan emphasizes the need to provide for the recreational and tourism needs of Eilat – a central tourist city in Israel – and to ensure the status and efficiency of the port – the southern gate to Israel. The mutual arrangement of these land uses over short stretches of dense beaches was a central challenge in writing this plan.
Meeting this challenge requires the correct and controlled use of land resources, ensuring the continued existence of their treasures and values for future generations, and at the same time keeping planning options open. In this sense the plan follows the principles of sustainable development, which promotes moderate and controlled development while conserving the values of the land for future generations.