William McLean (civil servant)

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McLean's 1918 Town Plan of Jerusalem, which was the first urban planning scheme for the city. It laid the foundations for what became West Jerusalem and East Jerusalem.[1]

Sir William Hannah McLean KBE (1877–1967[2]) was a British civil servant in the Colonial Office.

McLean was the first urban planner,[3] responsible for the layout of Khartoum,[4] Alexandria, where he was city engineer and of Jerusalem, where he prepared the master plan, in 1918.[3]

He divided Jerusalem into four zones:[3]

(1) the Old City, in which a ‘‘medieval aspect’’ was to be preserved through the prohibition of all new construction;

(2) a zone of non-construction around the Old City, where undesirable buildings would be cleared and the area left to its natural state; (3) an area to the north and east of the Old City, where buildings could be erected only with special approval; and

(4) an area to the north and west of the Old City that was set aside for modern development.

He was a Scottish Unionist Party member of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom for Glasgow Tradeston between the general elections of 1931 and 1935.

In 1938, he was appointed Commander of the Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem.[5]


  1. ^ Elisha Efrat and Allen G. Noble, Planning Jerusalem, Geographical Review, Vol. 78, No. 4 (Oct., 1988), pp. 387-404: "Modern planning began only after the British conquest of Palestine in World War I… In 1918 an engineer from Alexandria, William McLean, was commissioned to draft the first city plan… These provisions… caused the city to develop mainly to the west and southwest because of the restrictions on construction in the Old City and its immediate environs and the desire to retain the eastern skyline… McLean wanted Jerusalem to expand to the north, west, and south, with little development to the east because of climatic and topographical limitations. Thus almost from the onset of British colonial rule, development was encouraged in a generally westward direction, and this bias ultimately produced the initial contrasts that distinguished the eastern and western sectors of the city. McLean also adopted the principle of urban dispersal, and he proposed two main axes, one to the northwest and the other to the southwest of the Old City. His guidelines were repeated in most of the subsequent city plans."
  2. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "T" (part 2)
  3. ^ a b c Roberts213, Nicholas E. (2013). "Dividing Jerusalem: British Urban Planning in the Holy City" (PDF). JSTOR. doi:10.1525/JPS.2013.42.4.7. S2CID 156587484. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 February 2020. Retrieved 25 August 2020.
  4. ^ Grinsell, Sam (30 July 2020). "The city is a lie". Aeon.
  5. ^ "London Gazette" (PDF). London Gazette. 24 June 1938. Retrieved 24 August 2020.

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Glasgow Tradeston
Succeeded by