Urban laws stuck in draft stage

The country needs modernised urban planning laws to keep with a rapidly changing real estate market, as legacy laws are unsuited for the purpose, according to experts.

Yangon in particular faces numerous challenges that were not anticipated when the current urban planning rules were put in place.

A slate of new laws and rules have been drafted, but they have been slow to become law. They have sat idle for various reasons, according to U Than Moe, a consultant with UN-HABITAT and a retired official from the Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development.

“If we want Yangon to be a liveable and a beautiful city, we should have modern laws for developing urban space,” he said.

For instance, the Yangon City and Regional Development Plan currently in use was drawn up by the Ministry of Construction in 1968. It is too outdated to be practical, he said.

“Yangon is changing into a modern city. There are a number of high-rise buildings, mixed-use developments and new housing projects, and they need to be systematically built according to the laws,” he said.

Drafts plans for Yangon city was completed by experts from Yangon City Development Committee, the Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development, the Ministry of Construction, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency. One of the plans is called Yangon Vision 2040, and the other is the Yangon Strategic Plan, finished in 2013.

U Than Moe said that even though the plans are good, they have not yet been approved.

“As soon as they are legally approved, they can be put to work,” he said.

Additionally, a zoning plan and a high-rise limit zone plan have been drafted since 2014 and 2012 respectively, said Daw Hlaing Maw Oo, member of the drafting committee for the zoning plan and director at the Ministry of Construction.

“Zoning is an absolute necessity for every city. That’s why we, urban planners, suggested to the authorities that we should draw up and plans, and we have,” she said. “But they’re not in place yet because they have not been made legal by the government.”

Further laws are in the works. Drafts of a national housing development law, a new town development law and a groundwater management law have been completed by experts from the Ministry of Construction’s Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development. Department director U Win Naing said while the drafts have been completed, they are only at the early stages and still some time from being put before parliament.

Other draft laws have made it further. A condominium law, which is expected to allow foreigners to own some condo units, has been drafted in 2013 and even discussed in parliament. However, differences of opinion between parliamentarians, the drafting committee and businesspeople have so far placed the law in purgatory.


Source: Myanmar Times

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