Monday, 23 Oct 2017

Planning of apartment complexes in small alleys: Stricten process issuing construction permits

Updated at Thursday, 13 Jul 2017, 13:23
The Hanoitimes - In small streets of Hanoi, the increasing establishment of apartment complexes are threatening urban planning and putting pressure on infrastructure.
According to evaluations of experts, the practice of setting up multi-storey buildings between empty spaces of residential areas is impractical, at least with regard to transportation and firefighting. 

“Governmental agencies need to impose strict regulations on the process of approval and reevaluation projects in small alleys to avoid mistakes in planning. Under the pressure of market, the phenomenon of tenements in “small alleys, small streets” can absolutely arise. In the end, related agencies will give out the problem of whether or not an egg or a chicken is born first to determine who is responsible for the problem. If not, who is to blame for the problem of transportation? Who will explain for the issues of overpopulation, pollution and fire hazards? The answer is: Us.,” Professor of Science Dang Hung Vo emphasizes. 

Theoretically, the situation of “mouse’s tail” alley with the appearance of “elephant’s head” tenement contrasts with the principles of planning. However, in reality, this tendency appeals to investors because of their immense profits and values. Alley 102, Truong Chinh street is a representative for the occurrence of 1 alley with 2 tenements. First of all, MeCo Complex project was constructed on an area of 22.000m2, with approximately 500 compartments with multiple blocks which have been utilized since 2013. Some meters apart is Capital Garden project operated by Kinh Do TCI Association as the major investor. The project was constructed with building density at 42%, including 21 floors, two shopping floors and three basements. Notably, Alley 102, Truong Chinh street is too narrow. With just two cars going in an opposite direction, theire will be immediate congestion. Meanwhile, the operation of both complexes will result in the move-in of 3.000 people, if in average 3 people live in one apartment. Especially, the amount of minivans transferring to the street has not been counted, but the pressures they put on the streets definitely surpass the weight-tolerance of the alley. 

 The narrow 102 Truong Chinh alley with crowded apartment complexes
The narrow 102 Truong Chinh alley with crowded apartment complexes
Besides congestion and pressure on infrastructure, the majority of construction in small alleys cannot guarantee the requirements for firefighting. “At the end of last May, in the 15th floor of Capital garden complex, a severe fire hazard happened. Most importantly, when the firefighting vehicle arrived, it could not move to the window area where the fire happened. Because the complex’s design of transportation roads does not meet the standards, the firefighting vehicle cannot go into the road easily,” Mr. Nguyen Van Chau, a resident of Capital Garden complex expresses. 

Another location in Hanoi whose infrastructure is under heavy pressure caused by overpopulation is Trieu Khuc street, Tranh Xuan district. The width of the road is very narrow, at less than 6 meters. In addition, the crowd of houses has announced Trieu Khuc street as an epitome for congestion and crowdedness. However, this street is currently burdened with hundreds of high-quality building blocks which are belong to Diamond Blue Project (no. 69) and adjacent multi-storey Pandora complex (no. 53). Even though the previous planning has opened the street to 8 more meters, the streets have not witnessed any changes for the past 10 years. Whenever heavy rain happens, the street tends to be flooded, paralyzing transportation. The similar situation will happen to Nguyen Huy Truong street once three housing projects of Impreia Garden from number 96 to number 98B and PVV- VinaPharm Tower 60B go into operation.

The consequences of overcrowded apartment complexes in city centers are clear: disruption of masterplan and putting burden on transport and infrastructure. According to experts, building apartment complexes in small alleys are not encouraged, but still happening due to profits. Therefore, if investors want to build apartment complexes in “hot spots”, they will have to contribute funds to improve infrastructure and meet the government’s requirements. At present, despite regulations on building permits becoming more specific, the issuance of permits for house or apartments in small alleys are mainly based on specific terms but not on overall view. 

Mr Le Hoang Chau – the President of Ho Chi Minh Real Estate Association (HOREA) points out some issues during the issuing process. For example, some investors lobby to carry out projects in areas not allowed to build apartments or shopping centers, even in some projects in alleys which have no road access. 

“The principles of infrastructure before building must be obliged strictly. At the same time, the Government needs to improve transportation infrastructure in consistent with the masterplan. Overcrowded tenement complexes and related issues are not entirely the faults of the investors, as the permit-issuing agencies also share the blames. A project has to be thoroughly reviewed and the investors have to take full responsibilities for their projects” – Mr. Chau emphasized.

Overcrowded apartment blocks in city center are built because investors pursue profits and ignore masterplan. Therefore, the management process should be reformed. In particular, the approval agencies, urban planners and investors need to take the right approach. In case of an incident happening and putting the citizen’s safety at risks, responsibilities in each process must be clear for strict punishment. – Mr. Pham Sy Liem – Vice President of the Vietnam Federation of Civil Engineering Associations.
Ngoc Thuy
Van Hang -
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