[EDITORIALS]Get a good blueprintSeoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak's plan to develop an area north of the Han River seems to have adopted a desirable approach. The basic idea that has emerged is that the plan would be managed by the metropolitan government and that construction of mini-towns will make the most of local characteristics. But if Mr. Lee promoted the plan hurriedly, without a clear blueprint for each development stage to show off achievements during his tenure as mayor, the result is another example of disorderly construction of buildings.
The gap in living conditions and cultural and educational facilities between gangnam, or south of the Han River, and gangbuk, or north of the river, has gone beyond the limit. It is desirable that the metropolitan government adopt a policy of giving more priority to the development of the gangbuk area. In the past, the development of gangbuk was left to the private sector and the investment in urban infrastructure was not sufficient, which led to the disorderly construction of buildings. Under the new plan, the city authority will take responsibility for land purchases, expropriation and replotting. The city will also promote models of various redevelopment plans.
Seoul will select two or three places as model mini-town sites this month. The construction will begin during the first half of next year and will be completed in four to five years. Already, prospective development areas are being named. It normally takes more than 10 years to complete the redevelopment of an apartment complex. The development project should not be in a hurry. Without a plan for dividing urban functions among different districts, and coordinating traffic flow with a citywide overview, the project will be ineffective.
The new plan will likely encounter unpleasant side effects in the course of promotion. Seoul should be prepared to solve those ills. The land owners of the development area will receive enormous benefits, and the speculative investment will be rampant.
In order to build a mini-town where the culture is active and the environment is saved, Seoul should try hard to secure roads, schools and parks. It is also important to secure financial resources to invest in such public projects.