2. The emergence of New Urban Area: Part I

New Urban Area (NUA) was a pioneer urban concept in Hanoi back in the 1990s, meaning the site developed with public facilities and synchronized infrastructure system for residential uses mainly. Refer to figure 1, the development model of  NUA was widely applied in the Housing Development program of Hanoi from late 1990s-2010. It was an attempt to overcome housing shortage and to better manage the city, responding to a modern urban lifestyle for family and the community under socio-economic globalisation. [1]

Fig.1 New Urban Area since 1995

Image source: Danielle Labbé, Land Politics and Livelihoods on the Margins of Hanoi, 1920-2010, (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2014), 100

 

Since the introduction of Doi Moi in 1986, the general economy of Vietnam and particularly Hanoi has created unprecedented achievements. The standard of living and incomes have been evidently improved. The per capita GDP of Hanoi was US$720 in 1999 in comparison with US$625 in 1996. [2] Besides the socio-economic improvement, there has been a trend of migration from rural to urban areas, especially in urban centres such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, in Vietnam. Consequentially, the pressure on housing demands kept increasing : In 1996, per capita living land was 22.75 sq.m. but in 2000, it reduced to only 14,1 sq.m. [3] As the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi had received approximately over 200,000 spontaneous migrants in 1997. [4] The government’s urban subsidised investment in Hanoi created great incentive to migration. The drastic population increase in and fast economic growth has caused a so-called “Spontaneous boom of housing construction”, which created burdens for management and urban development. [5]

The master plan of the New Urban Area scheme was therefore designed in 1992 to cope with the increasing demand on housing in Hanoi, at the same time, avoiding unplanned housing development. Since the Ancient Quarter was almost fully developed, the government decided to transform part of the rural areas in Hanoi into urban areas. The implementation of the new land law in 1993 gave people the right to own property, and legalized the informal land market, leading to an explosion in property deals.[6] Most citizens in the 1990s were not confident in banks so they invested in private self-build housing properties instead. [7]  They prefer to own a detached house than an apartment, which was associated with socialist poverty. Apart from the psychological reason, the Vietnamese lifestyle of trade on the streets, living in communities, and houses open to public spaces also make an apartment inferior to a detached house. [8]

There was a gap between what was originally planned and what was constructed due to loose land law revised in 1993 which gave private developers high autonomy in using their lands. [9] Some developers revised the initial zoning plans and sell plots to individual citizens. New construction and renovation of houses were mostly carried out by households with their own funds and were based on their own preferences. Although, these development generate local wealth, these construction activities were often not complied with the overall planning and regulations. [10] These led to a visual cacophony in the cityscape and the waste of land. These problems were calling for the Municipality of Hanoi for a better policy on land and housing development.

 

Footnotes

1. Dinh Duc Thang, New Urban Area Projects A Major Solution for Housing Development in Hanoi, (Lund: Lund University, 2007), 1

2. ibid

3. ibid

4. Dang Nguyen Anh, Cecilia Tacoli, Hoang Xuan Thanh, Migration in Vietnam: A review of information on current trends and patterns, and their policy implications, (London: DFID, 2003), 3

5. Dinh Duc Thang, New Urban Area Projects A Major Solution for Housing Development in Hanoi, (Lund: Lund University, 2007), 2

6. ibid

7. Danielle Labbé, Land Politics and Livelihoods on the Margins of Hanoi, 1920-2010, (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2014), 277

8. ibid

9. ibid

10. ibid

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