[EDITORIALS]No leadership in a ‘new city’

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[EDITORIALS]No leadership in a ‘new city’

Seoul’s municipal government has recently designated the area comprising Geoyeo-dong and Macheon-dong in the southeastern district of Songpa-gu as the site for its third “new town” construction project, while the government announced the construction of a “new city” in the Songpa area as part of its real estate policy.
What is the difference between a “new town” and a “new city?” Are these two projects related to each other? Such ambiguity could result in confusion. The fact that the Seoul municipal government and the central government made their announcements only two days apart has caused real estate prices in the area to skyrocket. The National Tax Service has launched a crackdown on speculation, but the area does not yet fall under the Real Estate Transaction Act, which mandates the registration of any real estate transaction within designated areas.
The 100-acre site in Songpa-gu that is designated for the “new town” project is a low-income neighborhood crowded with old single-family and multiple-family houses. On the other hand, the 1,630-acre “new city” site is government-owned land that currently houses military facilities. The two sites do not overlap. However, in order to plan the layout of local infrastructure such as roads and sewage systems, or the construction of public facilities such as schools, it would be more efficient to establish a comprehensive blueprint for the entire region. This requires close and flexible cooperation between the local and national governments. Yet the two governments’ announcements makes one doubt that the two even met once to discuss their plans. The two governments have even introduced different legislation for the development projects in the same area. This is not the first time there has been such a discrepancy between the central and the Seoul governments in their urban development policies. Earlier this year, when the Seoul government announced plans for reconstruction projects in the Cheongdam and Dogok area in Gangnam, south of the river, the government put its foot down and opposed any further construction of high-rise buildings in the area.
Ultimately, the biggest victims of such power plays between the government and the Seoul municipality over real estate policies are the citizens. The two governments should stop testing each other and start working together.
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