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Mass-transit expansion dictates new city plan

By on May 13, 2013 in Property News

Mass-transit expansion dictates new city planRedesignation of some areas, new rules cause developers to fret over lack of clarity

In line with the concept of turning the capital into “a green and compact city”, the new Bangkok City Plan sees six key category changes from its predecessor, which expires this month after being in place for the last seven years.

“All of the changes are brought about by infrastructure development, especially the mass-transit system that is expanding locations [for development] from the central business districts to outer Bangkok,” Panyapat Noppun, deputy director-general of the City Planning Department of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, said during an interview with The Nation.

The capital’s infrastructure development dictated the rewriting of the city plan, in particular the 10 new mass-transit rail routes that will be completed over the next five to 20 years, she said.

“When the mass-transit system is complete, it will change residential demand as people will want to live close to the rail system, which will reduce their transportation costs and improve their quality of life,” she added.

The main idea of the new Bangkok City Plan is that the design focus should be on making the capital a “compact city”. That requires people to get to their workplace quickly and keep their travel costs down by using an expanded mass-transit system.

As a result, the designation of some locations near to the mass-transit system will change from “moderate population” areas to “middle-high density” areas.

The areas subject to such a designation change are Min Buri and Taling Chan districts, Wong Wien Yai, Pattanakarn junction through Srinakarin Road, and Chaeng Wattana Road.

The new city plan also designates three new commercial-complex areas along the mass-transit routes: Phaholyothin, Wong Wien Yai and Makkasan.

These locations will be open to the construction of commercial buildings covering more than 10,000 square metres, as well as buildings with a floor-area ratio 10 times above the standard level.

The plan also provides for a space bonus for buildings meeting the “green building” environmental criteria of the Thai Green Building Institute.

Developers and building owners successfully applying for certification from the institute will be entitled to extra space and a floor-area ratio up to 20 per cent higher than the standard level.

Low-income housing

Meanwhile, the plan also supports demand to provide housing for the low-income market by offering incentives for property firms who set aside space for this segment.

Developers catering to customers classified by National Statistical Office as low-income persons will get 5-20 per more floor-area ratio space than the norm, depending on the extent to which a project design provides for the low-income market.

However, the plan also revises down some locations from “moderate population” areas to “low-density” areas, due to their limited infrastructure, including road size and wastewater system, which is insufficient to support significant residential development, she said.

Included in this category are Bang Khun Thian district, located close to a mangrove forest, Bang Bon district, Bang Yee Khan and some parts of Bangkok Noi district.

“Overall, the new Bangkok City Plan is designed to cover the city’s population growth and infrastructure investment over the next 20 years,” Panyapat said.

Residential concerns

Although the new Bangkok City Plan is designed to cover the city’s growth over a long period, property firms and related parties continue to have concerns over exactly how it will be implemented in regard to residential development.

LPN Development managing director Opas Sripayak said that while the company was interested in the incentives for developing housing for the low-income market as well as green building, it would have to study the new plan very carefully because it would be difficult to accomplish these goals if it lacked clarity on how to go about it.

For example, how exactly would the company apply if it wanted to build a residential project in which some of the space was set aside for the low-income market?

Moreover, what would happen to the space if that segment of the market did not in the event have sufficient purchasing power to buy units in the area reserved for it?

“We agree with the new Bangkok City Plan, but we will need time to learn how to carry things out before deciding whether to develop housing in accordance with the new rules,” he said.

Sopon Pornchokchai, president of the Agency for Real Estate Affairs, said the new city plan limited the space for building condominiums in the central business districts, especially along Sukhumvit Road, by stipulating a floor-area ratio of only seven or eight times.

“The plan focuses only on green areas, but is not concerned about building homes for people in areas where there is now more demand to live close to the workplace,” he said.

Source : The Nation 10 May 2013

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