Plans ignored, urban areas hurt
Failure to follow planning in many urban areas has negative consequences for urban development, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said at a recent conference of the construction sector.
As regulated, an Urban Development and Management Board will be set up to help local authorities implement and manage development plans to ensure infrastructure connectivity and co-operation between contractors.
The Ha Noi Capital Construction Master Plan was the first planning directed by the Politburo and approved by the Prime Minister, but many problems remained unsolved, such as traffic congestion, flooding and dense high-rise buildings in the inner city.
The director of the HCM City Department of Construction, Tran Trong Tuan, pointed to a lack of connectivity between housing development and infrastructure development.
Many home construction projects were built following approved planning but urban development projects, particularly technical and social infrastructure projects, failed to keep up with them. In some areas, there was some connectivity between these projects, but it did not comply with the Construction Law on comprehensive connectivity, according to Tuan.
To tackle this issue, big urban areas like Ha Noi and HCM City need to complete housing development programmes on the basis of urban development programmes to deal with shortcomings relating to infrastructure and traffic, he said.
According to Construction Minister Pham Hong Ha, the ministry will review and inspect planning and the implementation of planning of all urban areas this year, particularly big urban areas.
The Linh Dam Urban Area in Ha Noi’s Hoang Mai District is a typical example of the problems raised at the conference. The area was planned ten years ago, but adjusted often since then. On an area of 3ha in the urban area, up to 12 high-rise buildings were built with a construction density of 50 per cent.
Another land plot was planned for low-rise houses, but a 35-storey building was built instead. The Linh Dam Urban Area is now in disorder and all the initial planning has been wiped out.
Experts said planning adjustments are common, but such “excessive” adjustments as in Linh Dam create a negative precedent.
Recently, an investor asked Ha Noi authorities for permission to fill up one hectare of the 6ha Thanh Cong Lake to build an apartment complex. In exchange, the investor would dig up a hectare nearby to make a man-made lake.
But the Vice Chairman of the Ha Noi Urban Planning and Development Association, Dao Ngoc Nghiem, said the proposal did not match the urban planning. The developer suggested digging a man-made lake, but failed to take into account the connectivity with surrounding infrastructure, he said.
Harmonious co-operation needed
According to Construction Minister Ha, people and businesses are the ones affected by planning, but they have no say in it.
For example, in big urban areas like Ha Noi and HCM City, if businesses choose to invest in an urban area in line with approved planning, they must ensure that the plans will not result in traffic congestion, he said. "Businesses themselves must not adjust planning without permission from local authorities, and both sides must abide by the approved urban planning."
Associate Professor Nguyen Trong Hoa from the HCM City Institute for Development Studies said urban planning in some areas was not effective enough or lacked sustainability.
Many urban areas incorporated construction planning into their socio-economic development plans but are still weak in building development plans.
As a result, current urban development plans were just “puzzle pieces” of projects that the State had enough budget to invest in or businesses wanted to invest in because of their own interests, he said.
Above all, authorities at all levels must manage urban development publically and transparently and be held accountable. Many countries in the world developed sustainably thanks to this “gold principle”, he said.
All planning requires the participation of many relevant ministries and sectors, particularly localities which benefit from the planning. Therefore, if all ministries and localities have a responsibility to carefully study and contribute opinions to the planning, its quality would be much improved, Ha said.