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Open urban spaces crucial in plans for a greener capital city

Update: April, 23/2013 - 10:38

Pham Sy Liem, former deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Construction Association, told Xay Dung (Construction) newspaper about Ha Noi's latest bid to become a green, civilised and modern city by 2050.

Why is it important to achieve harmony between open space and buildings in the city?

Harmony between open space and buildings brings natural beauty, while ensuring good air flow and a clean environment for the city. However, it is a difficult goal for many developing cities, where open space is becoming smaller and smaller. With future land-use planning, it is imperative to reserve 70 per cent of natural territory for tree and water space by 2050, as mentioned by Deputy Minister of Construction Nguyen Dinh Toan at the presentation of the draft scheme on the city's master plan.

In the inner city at present, there are about 45,000 trees, most of them lie in the four central districts and were planted during the French occupation. Trees and water surface have become very special and dear to the hearts of many Ha Noi people, particularly those living in the Old Quarter.

As the city is developing, many new modern buildings and residential areas have sprung up and more people have come to live and work in the city, making it increasingly crowded. As a result, space for parks and other open areas have been eaten up and replaced by multi-storey buildings and houses.

I still remember in October 2010, when Ha Noi celebrated its 1,000th founding anniversary, the gorgeous Hoa Binh Park was inaugurated. Just over two years later, the park has deteriorated and is now almost deserted.

In your opinion, what are the main reasons for the poor implementation of land-use planning, particularly in terms of open space?

In the city's master plan which was approved in July 2011, urban open space is given prominence. More recently in November last year, the Ha Noi Construction Planning Institute completed a plan for open space, building parks and lakes by 2030 and a vision for 2050. Under that plan, in the next three years (2013-15) the city will spend roughly VND7.1 trillion (US$350 million) on urban open space.

But early this year, city authorities suddenly instructed the Department of Construction to revise the plan to make it applicable from 2011-15. This is totally absurd!

Many plans have been developed,but they seem destined to remain pretty on paper, while never gracing our city. Who is responsible for that? Is it because of the poor urban government capacity of the city authorities?

So how can we make the city plan become a reality?

Green trees, parks and lakes are an integral part of urban public spaces. It is important to turn the city's master plan into a reality. To do that we can learn from other countries like Singapore, China or France on how to make the best use of limited urban open space to create beauty. The landscape of urban open spaces can range from playing fields to well-maintained gardens, as well as relatively natural landscapes. All these things are part and parcel of the urban governance capacity. — VNS

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