[EDITORIALS]Green belt erosion

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[EDITORIALS]Green belt erosion

The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to develop 631 acres within a greenbelt area, where the law restricts land development. Under the plan, nine locations in the green belt area in Segok-dong, Gangnam district, and Umyeon-dong of Seocho district will be developed into large apartment housing estates for rental purposes. The Ministry of Construction is going to endorse the plan, so a considerable portion of Seoul’s green area is going to be sacrificed again for housing.
We all understand the importance of a stable housing supply, and nobody will say “no” to providing more housing. Despite feverish real estate speculation during the past few years, construction of small and rental housing units for grass-roots people has been slow, aggravating the shortage of housing for persons in the lower-income brackets.
But despite numerous challenges, Seoul’s green belt has been protected so far because there are more merits than demerits in maintaining it. We have to continue to be careful about damaging it. Destruction of nature for housing development and subsequent traffic congestion is not a net gain in our welfare
And city officials seem to take lightly the damage to the greenbelt. It has not been residents but local governments that have been the main culprits in the destruction of our greenbelt. Whenever they see an opportunity for easing construction restrictions, they rush in with plans for distribution centers, hospitals and bus terminals ― plans that they have had waiting on the shelf.
The bigger problem is confusion and the lack of a true plan for the development of the Seoul area. The current administration is pushing ahead with a plan to move the capital from Seoul to somewhere in the Chungcheong provinces.
It says the benefits will be an easing of the population pressure in Seoul and more stability in real estate prices. But the idea of destroying more of Seoul’s greenbelt for housing does not jibe with those rosy predictions.
First things first. The government should state its plans to move the capital, and then factor that into greenbelt planning.
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