Guangzhou asks public for views on facelift plan

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 January, 2010, 12:00am

Guangzhou made public yesterday an ambitious facelift plan that will cost nearly 100 billion yuan (HK$115 billion), will mean demolishing more than 10 per cent of the old town's built-up area and necessitate relocating 600,000 people.

The city's Bureau of Urban Planning is inviting public views after putting on its website a preliminary urban renewal framework for the city's development from now to 2020. The 15-day consultation, which began on Monday, lasts until February 10.

The bureau said that protecting Guangzhou's monuments and heritage was a long-running and challenging task, and the public's participation would be encouraged. The public is also invited to propose buildings and streets with industrial, cultural and religious legacy as well as ancestral halls and arcade houses with significant historical value to be included in a listing of protected historical sites and monuments.

This is the largest old-town renovation plan by Guangzhou, which aims to free up land and beautify the city landscape, since the government announced a massive urban-redevelopment project in downtown Haizhu district two years ago. Under that plan, old buildings were slated for repair on the south bank of the Pearl River, necessitating 20,000 people being relocated.

The new scheme will be co-ordinated and financed by the city government, though the authorities are considering bringing in market investment, as well as improving efficiency, in a bid to reduce the government's financial burden. Cultural heritage projects and monument protection will be paid for by district and city governments.

The citywide scheme will cover historical heritage and monuments, and will revitalise 54 sq km of old town stretching across Yuexiu, Liwan and Haizhu districts. Many features in that area are about 30 years old.

According to official figures, the old-town area will be redeveloped into four specific zones: 1.08 sq km of preserved heritage sites; 3.23 sq km of streets and buildings with significant cultural, architectural and industrial legacy; a 20.39 sq km landscape-lifestyle co-ordination area; and a general town area covering 33.61 sq km. The total number of residents in the four zones is about 2 million.

The current total built-up area in the old town stands at 90,130 sq km. Of that, 10,500 sq km will be demolished, including a large number of dangerous and old buildings.

Commenting on the massive facelift plan, Li Shaoyun of the Guangzhou Urban Planning and Design Survey Research Institute, said it was a move in the right direction. However, he said that the government would need to pay attention to preserving the original lifestyle of people who had lived in the old town areas for decades.

He said the plan was desperately needed, as the city had long had a shortage of development space.

No small task

The area of the old town, in square kilometres, that the scheme aims to revitalise is: 54