Plan to allow trading in development rights

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 November, 2008, 12:00am

Macau will press ahead with a new programme allowing development rights to be transferred and traded in the market.

Macau Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah told the city's legislature yesterday that the programme known as 'transfer of development rights' would increase flexibility and transparency in urban planning.

Such programmes, which have been running in some western countries, allow landowners to separate development rights from their properties and sell them to landowners elsewhere. As development rights sometimes conflict with urban planning rules, such trading enables landowners to scale back building plans to suit zoning rules without sustaining financial losses.

Mr Ho indicated his government was determined to use such a programme to replace a problematic land-swapping approach. 'We may have to disregard whether the market can accept it right away,' he said. 'This will be the only way to solve problems related to the renovation of old districts in the future.'

Many Macau landowners have acquired building rights, or development rights, that run contrary to urban planning rules and the government has had to compensate them for cutting back on developments. The lack of transparency in relation to how the government compensated landowners fuelled speculation about corruption.

Developers sometimes appeared to have received prime sites from the government in exchange for low-value plots.

'Under the old land-swapping system, many conspiracy theories developed,' Mr Ho said.

He also told legislators he saw no signs of large-scale job cutting in the gaming industry.


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