By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
Transitional guidelines are necessary in Macau for the next three to four years while local developers and architects wait for the new urban planning law to be enacted, the Architects Association of Macau (AAM) has argued.
Chief of the Secretary for Transport and Public Works’ Office Wong Chan Tong disclosed on Sunday that the Government will start drafting the urban planning law next year and strive to have it implemented within the following two to three years.
It also hopes that the consultation draft of the legislation can be launched in the first half of 2011 to gather public opinions.
The second phase consultation work of the planning for the new reclaimed land project is also expected to be carried out in 2011, Wong said.
In addition, the secretary’s office and the Urban Planning Society of China announced on Sunday the research report on Macau’s general urban design, which outlines the importance of establishing an urban public space system that emphasizes preservation and development of scarce resources and also social harmony.
Another study concerning Macau’s urban planning framework will also be made public this week. Wong said the two reports will provide “important technical information” for the urban planning work in the city.
Ben Leong, chairman of the Architects Association, told the Macau Daily Times yesterday that industry hopes the urban planning law can be rolled out as soon as possible, since the current laws are “not comprehensive nor clear enough” for them to follow at present.
However, he did not comment directly about whether he thinks the Government is working at a slow pace, pointing out that there is a lot of work to do and it is a “long process” for the draft law to go through public consultations, the Executive Council and then the Legislative Assembly.
Leong said the Government did not consult local architects on the general urban design research which was then conducted by the Urban Planning Society of China. Therefore he said he had no idea about the findings and could not make any comments.
Yet, in a general point of view, the architect said urban planning has to include a “clear blueprint” that identifies the development models of different areas in a place – whether it puts emphasis on commercial, tourism and residential projects, peripheral facilities, transportation planning, green area ratio and building height limits.
“We need a forward-looking plan so that society can understand how Macau is going to develop itself in the next 10 or 20 years, and the concerned industries can work in line with the Government’s land development blueprint,” Leong stressed.
The rapid social and economic development in Macau over the past few years has left urban planning behind, Leong said. Therefore how to deal with the problems arisen in the course of development when formulating the urban planning legislation will be a major issue that the Government needs to face, he added.
“It’s impossible for Macau to stop developing and wait until the [urban planning] law is introduced,” the architect stressed.
In the next couple of years when the law is still absent in Macau, he believes that a consensus has to be obtained in order to implement interim guidelines for developers, professionals and civilians to comply with.
The general urban design research suggests three major principles – featured development, integration and green construction.
Deputy secretary-general of the Urban Planning Society of China, Geng Hongbing, said there are a lot of problems and conflicts accumulated over the past in Macau’s world heritage buffer zones. He predicted that it will be a long process that requires a social consensus and old neighbourhood renewal before the situation can be improved.