Fri, Aug 24, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Academics knock city development

BUILDING BLOCKS:Several academics have criticized the government’s ‘careless development’ of urban areas, labeling its performance as ‘out of control’

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Officials said yesterday at a forum that more creativity and a new mindset would have to be introduced in all plans for urban development in the future as academics expressed disappointment over the government’s performance in this area during the past decade.

“New legislation, ideas and approaches are required for metropolises such as Taipei City and the New Taipei City to improve their urban environment,” said Hung Chia-hung (洪嘉宏), director-general of the Construction and Planning Agency’s Urban and Rural Development Branch.

Hung was among a group of officials and academics in the Taipei Next Forum, organized by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智), which focused on urban development, in particular on issues of social housing, urban regeneration and the proposed development of a waterfront, in the greater Taipei area.

With housing prices in Taiwan skyrocketing, social housing has been mentioned by experts as a way to ease housing demand for the young and the poor, but Taiwan’s government has always distributed social apartments through selling, rather than leasing.

“Perhaps it’s time for us to introduce the concept of superficies by allowing residents to live in apartments without owning them, so they would not have to endure the high housing price,” Hung said.

Volunteer participation in urban regeneration projects could be tax deductible and legislation should be relaxed to allow changes in the use of land to bring in industries and rejuvenate certain areas, he added.

Ting Yu-chun (丁育群), Commissioner of Taipei City’s Department of Urban Development, said the city government has learned lessons in a number of urban regeneration projects which had stirred up controversies and public anger this year.

Taipei City plans to build 45,000 social apartments, around 5 percent of the total of 970,000 households in the city, in 25 years for people in need, he said.

Huang Jui-mao (黃瑞茂), a professor of Architecture at Tamkang University, described the government’s performance on urban development in the past decade as “out of control.”

Development projects have become politicians’ blank checks in election campaigns, he said, adding that the underprivileged people and urban reservations were among the issues that the government had totally ignored in Tamsui (淡水), a town of 100,000 residents in New Taipei City (新北市), has been the perfect example of how things went wrong in Taiwan’s urban planning, Huang said.

The town was “overloaded” with careless development of its waterfront and its culturally rich urban texture, he said.

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