Urban renewal projects in New Taipei City surrounding the Bitan Bridge in Sindian Disctrict, historic streets in Sinjhuang and the Danshui Customs Officer’s Residence, commonly known as the “Little White House,” have all raised controversy because the projects have negatively affected the preservation of historic areas and architecture. Some academics say that although urban renewal projects are indeed meant to make areas more attractive, they should take a measured approach, taking into consideration urban renewal plans as well as future prospects, so that land development and urban development do not outweigh historical and cultural value.
Yen Liang-yi, an associate professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture at Fu Jen Catholic University, says that urban planning is not necessarily a bad thing. Urban planning can be a logical policy tool when used to deal with architecture that has fallen into disrepair or presents public safety issues, but he warns that if the government merely uses urban planning to build up fancy apartment buildings, no public space will be left once all of the public land is sold off. Neglecting the rights of local residents in this way will only ruin the overall texture of the city, effectively killing the city’s lifeline, Yen says.
According to Yen, the city government was looking at urban development from the construction company’s perspective in an urban renewal project surrounding a police station in Sinjhuang. The government indirectly sold public land to a private company that then built towering 20 to 30-story-tall buildings along Sinjhuang’s historic streets, creating landscape eyesores that are entirely out of tune with the overall architectural style of the area and devastate the look of the old streets. Such urban monstrosities cause the historical environment and its vestiges to effectively vanish from the city, Yen says.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)