|An old villa on Ly Thuong Kiet Street in Ha Noi. Owners of Western style villas built in Ha Noi before 1954 are no longer allowed to transfer their certificates of land-use rights or split the premises. — VNS Photo Viet Thanh
HA NOI (VNS ) — In a bid to preserve the city's history, owners of Western-style villas built in Ha Noi before 1954 are no longer allowed to transfer ownership or remodel these homes.
This is part of the measures enacted by the municipal People's Committee to manage and preserve Western style villas, which have been considered part of the traditional charm of the capital city, and a reminder of the French colonial period in Viet Nam.
Chopping down aged trees or building new structures near the villas has also been banned.
Inhabitants of the villas will be required to seek approval from authorised agencies before making any changes or upgrades to the premises, plus they have to ensure they will maintain the original architecture and follow the city's housing plan.
According to the city's Department of Natural Resources and Environment, in the late 1980s there were 2,000 French and Western-style villas in the city. However, early this month, the city People's Committee reported that it identified 1,253 villas that were built before 1954 and now are in need of preservation.
The villas, mostly located in inner districts of Ba Dinh, Tay Ho, Hoan Kiem, Hai Ba Trung and Dong Da, are usually used for administration, embassies, senior leaders and individuals.
However, many private villas have had their original structures broken apart as the villas were changed for different purposes, such as to operate businesses or meet the housing demands of the increased population.
Now, villas are being shared by 5-15 families, and some of them reportedly accommodate 35-40 families.
According to a survey conducted by the city's Construction Department early this year, only 15 per cent of the old Western-style villas have their original designs, while 80 per cent of them have been modified and the remainder – five per cent – were broken apart and later rebuilt.
People became concerned about the changes made to the old French style villas in the city and the loss of a cultural heritage.
Vice chairman of the city People's Committee Vu Hong Khanh said that the management and use of old Western-style villas must be consistent with the city's housing plan and housing laws.
"The city made a criteria to classify villas, so that priority would be given to preserve and effectively use these premises," he said.
The removal of such villas, either owned by the State, organisations or individuals, was illegal, he said, adding that the municipal People's Committee and People's Council would examine requests before giving a license for removal or rebuilding seriously-degraded villas.
Meanwhile, Vice president of the Ha Noi Urban Planning Association Dao Ngoc Nghiem said, to have reasonable preservation, it is necessary to consider ownership of the villas, the connection between the villas' architecture and their neighbourhoods, as well as the typical style of the buildings. — VNS