The LADP planned urban expansion initiative in Qalat Saleh (Missan) was aimed to identify pragmatic solutions to address urban sprawl and informal growth of cities. It offers a demonstration pilot of how sustainable urban patterns and guided city growth can contribute to improved service delivery and socio-economic integration, and it provides a model for planning authorities on how to manage urban growth in comparable towns in Iraq.

Qalat Saleh is a small town located in rural area in the south of Missan Governorate and marketplace for nearby villages and urban centres (“3rd-tier town” as per the Outline Spatial Strategy for Iraq 2010-2030); its Master Plan of 1983 has not been updated since. The LADP/UN-Habitat team engaged Local Authorities from Qalat Saleh and Amara/Missan, counterparts from the Ministries of Planning (MoP) and Municipalities (MoMCHPW), and members of civil society in participatory process to produce diagnostic and legal gaps analysis, planning recommendations brief, updated land use map in ArcGIS, and final planning recommendations for Qalat Saleh in line with NUA and NUS. The initiative brought attention to the limitations of current land policies in Iraq that encourage urban sprawl, and the limited powers of local authorities in defining the future needs of their cities.

The elaborated urban expansion planning guidance document offers a set of planning tools to achieve sustainable urban expansion: infill development and densification, phased allocation of serviced land, upgrading and integration of informal settlements, promoting higher degree of land use mixity, and urban retrofitting to improve the connectivity and quality of public spaces. It demonstrates how the adoption of sustainable housing densities, mixed land use and social mix, and more realistic minimum plot standards allows more efficient service provision and the application of economies of agglomeration/scale. It will support Local Authorities to employ the set of planning tools to enhance jobs creation, housing/services access, social cohesion and environmental sustainability at the local level. It will also provide practical support for interim planning measures and future efforts by Local Authorities to develop fully-fledged Master Plans.