A three-storey limitation on new buildings meant to preserve a view of Shwedagon pagoda will block several high-rise projects along the river

Tuesday, 11 February 2014              Copyright © 2014 The Myanmar Times. All rights reserved.

A BAN on high-rise buildings that block the view of Yangon’s iconic Shwedagon pagoda has forced Myanmar Port Authority (MPA) to abandon parts of its waterfront development plan, government officials said.

The plan, drawn up in 2012, envisaged upgrading port facilities as well as the construction of a shopping mall, including a number of 10- and 12-storey buildings, for which some tenders have already been invited.

However in the last week of January YCDC submitted the draft Yangon Land Use and Buildings Height Zoning Plans to parliament for approval. The plan would limit building heights along the waterfront to three storeys.

“According to YCDC, no buildings higher than three storeys can be built on the waterfront, especially in Botahtaung, Pansodan port and the Nan Thi Dar jetty area because tall buildings block the views of the city’s sights. So we have to stop some projects,” U Htein Lin, a spokesperson for Myanmar Port Authority, told The Myanmar Times.

Ministry of Construction planner Daw Hlaing Maw Oo said that YCDC imposed the three-storey limit in some waterfront areas to ensure that visitors entering the city along the Yangon River could see Shwedagon pagoda.

“Shwedagon is the main image of Yangon. It should be visible from Botahtaung and Pansodan Port, and high-rise buildings would block the view,” she said.

The YCDC already has in place construction height limits in various parts of the city to protect views of the iconic pagoda. New buildings in Dagon township in particular are generally capped at six storeys to protect the prime views.

Currently, building heights from Sule Pagoda to the Botahtaung waterfront area are capped at three stories. The city stretch includes the Water Front Special Development Zone, Urban Heritage Conservation Are and the so-called “green” and “blue” zones in Botahtung and Kyauktada townships.

“We will not allow high buildings of government projects or other private construction if they are contained in these three zones,” U Nay Win, deputy director of the building department of YCDC, said. “If [construction is] not in these three zones or even the two townships, they can build high-rises.”

The original port authority plan covered parts of the downtown Botahtaung, Pansodan, Latha, Lanmadaw and Ahlone townships, said U Nay Win.

“We limited building height in order to preserve urban resources and to retain the city’s image. There is a place elsewhere for high-rise buildings,” he said.

But the ban will hamper the development of the port area, said MPA engineer U Mya Than.

“We want to develop the port area to international standards to maximise revenues. If we can’t carry out the development plan, it could cost us profit,” he said, adding that the port authority had to explain the reasons for the ban to companies who had received

tenders.

MPA has not yet started any construction in this area for high -rise buildings as the tender and selection process for development companies is still under way. MPA sources said that while plans for high rise construction had already been drawn up, planning would be paused while the new building heights passed through parliament.

MPA sources said the drastically reduced building height would cause the authority to go back to the drawing board with its budget for the ambitious waterfront development.

Planned construction in the area included an extended river bank in Botahtaung area to create about 100 feet (30 metres) of additional land into the Yangon River to build a resort and public park. The Sule Port was scheduled for an international-standard upgrade to allow bigger container ships to dock and nearby the Nan Thi Dar jetty was in line for a high-class makeover to house modern residential and commercial spaces.

 

Copyright © 2014 The Myanmar Times. All rights reserved.

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