Social housing must look nice: construction official

Saturday, Aug 05, 2017 10:05

A social housing project in District 7, HCM City. The southern city plans to build 20,000 units for poor people by 2020, and is considering their cost, with the construction department head preferring "nice" apartments to ensure high quality of life. — VNA/VNS Photo Van Khanh

Hoang Nguyen

HCM City should build social housing priced at up to VND1 billion (US$44,000) rather than VND200-300 million to ensure a reasonable quality of life for their occupants, the city’s top construction official has said.

Tran Trong Tuan, director of the Department of Construction, told a conference on Friday that building affordable apartments has been part of the city’s agenda for decades.

It has built tens of thousands of apartments for poor people and workers and plans to build 20,000 more from now through 2020, he said.

But he was not keen on super-cheap apartments, saying the quality of life of their occupants should be a priority.

Earlier he had talked to the media about three requirements for a cheap social housing project: land given for free to developers, infrastructure and a minimum size of each unit of at least 25sq.m.

Nguyen Van Duc, deputy director of property developer Dat Lanh, who had designed cheap housing in the city many years ago, told the conference it is feasible to build apartments priced at VND200-300 million in outlying districts like 12, Hoc Mon, Cu Chi, Binh Chanh, and Nha Be.

He said the department should encourage and guide property developers in building such apartments so that poor people could afford to buy them.

But Tuan rejected the idea of VND200-300 million units saying though it was feasible “an apartment is not just a place to live but reflects the quality of its occupants’ life and needs infrastructure.”

A better solution is to build apartments priced at VND350 million-1 billion, he said.

But VND100 million apartments could be built in industrial parks for workers, he said.

In February the department had urged companies based in Hiep Phuoc and Linh Trung industrial parks in Nha Be and Thu Duc districts to build residential clusters with 25sq.m apartments priced at VND100 million for their workers.

The city administration recently instructed the construction apartment and architecture association to organise a social housing design contest.

Tuan said the aim of the competition is to come up with social housing models which are not only affordable and have decent infrastructure but also look “nice” to buyers and put paid to the negative perception of workers’ apartments.

Asked about concerns that the contest could end up as a waste of time and money if the winning designs are not used to build social housing, Tuan said he would apply the lessons from past contests to ensure the designs entered are practicable.

Online application

Le Huu Nghia, director of real estate firm Le Thanh Co Ltd, said his was one of the first companies to apply for a construction permit online – under a programme that is being piloted now – and expects to get it from the construction department by August 8.

“I find that the service is very helpful and the department should soon launch it officially. Before this, property companies had to go to various agencies and sometimes wait for half a year to get a construction licence. Now it is only 12 days.”

The electronic service, whose trial began last month, is expected to reduce the time taken for approval from the current 133 days to 42.

Applicants do not have to go to government offices and can apply by submitting documents online.

Incomplete or ineligible applications will be returned for changes. Information can be sent via text message or email. Individuals and companies have to visit the construction department only once to pay the fee and get the permit.

Duc said that besides this the department should also allow developers to start building the foundation as soon as their 1:500-scale construction plan is approved.

Tuan replied that he had considered this but some concerns remain in terms of legislation that cannot be resolved yet.

Besides, one of the main objectives of administrative reforms this year is to reduce the time taken to issue permits and licences, and so the focus now is on the online service first.

“By the end of this year the department will review the electronic service and improve it.”—VNS

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