The Taipei Dome project on Monday evening passed an urban planning review at the Taipei City Government, but officials yesterday failed to answer city councilors’ questions regarding how many modifications are allowed under the approved plan and their effects.
The city government in May 2014 ordered contractor Farglory Land Development Co to stop construction due to safety concerns and unauthorized changes to the blueprints, saying that operations would only be allowed to resume after several reviews were passed.
Despite the project being stalled for several years, Farglory still failed to provide the results of computer simulations for two of six emergency evacuation scenarios at the sixth urban planning review meeting on Aug. 30.
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times
For the simulated evacuations, the Taipei Department of Urban Development has required that the audience must be able to leave their seats in eight minutes and exit the venue within 15 minutes.
At the seventh meeting to discuss the project’s disaster prevention and evacuation plans on Monday afternoon, Farglory again failed to pass the worst-case simulation, but later accepted the department’s suggested modifications after three hours of discussion.
The department suggested that Farglory shrink the corners of buildings in the shopping mall and cinema areas, as well as change the design of some ground-floor areas into semi-outdoor spaces, to increase the outdoor area in which people could take refuge.
While city councilors and a local borough warden who attended the meeting urged the review committee to call another meeting to review the modified plan and run the simulations again, department Commissioner Huang Ching-mao (黃景茂) on Monday announced that the committee has allowed Farglory to pass the test with the required modifications.
New Power Party (NPP) Taipei City Councilor Lin Liang-chun (林亮君) on Facebook questioned why the committee arbitrarily allowed the contractor to pass the review by making a few changes without additional simulations, saying that there were still questions left unanswered.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said that if the city government wanted to arbitrarily give approval, it would not even need a seventh review meeting, adding that professional questions should be answered by experts and that as the simulation software was developed in the UK, asking the developers would be more reasonable.
“If we cannot do anything because one or two people are against it, then the Taipei City Government would not be able to push forward any urban renewal plans,” Ko said.
Social Democratic Party Taipei City Councilor Miao Po-ya (苗博雅) and NPP Taipei City Councilor Lin Ying-meng (林穎孟) questioned whether there is statistical evidence proving that adding semi-outdoor spaces would help in an evacuation.
Taipei Dome Preparatory Office Deputy Director Chen Shih-hao (陳世浩) said that as the plan was approved on Monday, he does not know exactly how much additional space would be created and that such calculations would have to be conducted and provided by Farglory, but added that the submitted plan would not have to go through another urban planning committee review.
A Farglory representative said that although the project’s design has passed urban planning review, it would still need to pass an environmental assessment, as well as obtain a new construction permit for the developer to resume building.
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