15. Planned (but incomplete) public facilities – comparing public services in NUAs and old quarters

NUAs were supposedly planned with the notion of self-sustaining neighbourhood with abundant public facilities. This was explicitly stated in the law formulated upon the development of NUA.

“…synchronised urban infrastructure (roads, electricity, water supply and drainage, information, housing, schools and hospitals, hotels, entertainment centres, service shops, car parks, etc.) as well as establishments providing administrative and public safety activities, ensuring organisations and individuals eligible to create a stable life – live, work and communicate conveniently.”

People’s Committee of Hanoi, Quyet Dinh (Decision) 123/2001/QD-UB, Article 5

How well did the government plan for the new communities? And how well had the execution taken place by the semi-public developers?

To make a comparison between pre-existing fabric and NUAs, the maps below show the location of “police station”, “fire station”, “school” and “hospital” (based on the information provided on Google Maps).

Distribution of Police Stations in Linh Dam (above) and old quarters (below). The density of police wards in the old quarters is much higher; in fact, police station is not provided within the Linh Dam area, but only in the surrounding part of Hoang Mai district. Although Linh Dam remains a peaceful community with high mutual trust between neighbours, police force should still be necessary within the area with substantial population.

Distribution of Fire Stations in Linh Dam (above) and old quarters (below). Note that the only “fire station” marked in the map of Linh Dam is a company selling firefighting equipments – there is no fire station anywhere near Linh Dam. By observing the maps, even the fire protection system in the old quarter seems weak given its dense urban fabric.

Distribution of schools and education services in Linh Dam (above) and old quarters (below). The density of schools in Linh Dam is lower than that in the old quarter. On the other hand, the proportion of international and private schools against local schools is higher in Linh Dam. Does the demand of the specific demographic mix affect the outcome of distributions in NUAs like Linh Dam, or the other way round?

Distribution of hospitals, clinics and medical services in Linh Dam (above) and old quarters (below). There is no hospital within Linh Dam, with the nearest Thang Long Hospital in 4km. Other medical services exist in Linh Dam though. In the old quarters, there are 5 hospitals within this area and the amount of clinic is higher than that of Linh Dam.

Plans of all the NUAs had originally included all types of social services within the area proper. However, there were various reasons which caused the discrepancy between planning and execution. The first reason was that the financial incentive for building the social services was low. Financial support from the government often lacked behind, and the developer (HUD) required funding for building the services. The funding instead came from the sale of properties, which always happened before the completion of the construction. The public services thus could not be built together with the residential units.

The incompetence of government on enforcing the regulations to the development was also an important factor. The residential units occupied more open spaces than the original plan, as the residential parts were much more profitable than green spaces, which could generate no income. By occupying the planned open space with residential usage, the developer then could gain more profit.

One service component that was obviously absent in Linh Dam was the traditional market. The absence of market was most probably due to its fundamental lack of “order and tidiness”, which the government was attempting to pursue in NUAs. Planned commerce space in Linh Dam was not particularly thriving either without substantial store clusters or shopping malls serving the local population. The stores did not provide adequate choices for the residents either.



Bäckman, Mikael, and Maria Rundqvist. Sociable Space in a City of Life – the Case of Hanoi. Karlskorn, Sweden: Blekinge Institute of Technology.

Hanoi People’s Committee (2001) Quyet Dinh 123/2001/QD-UB (Decision 123/2001/QD-UB) Ban hanh Qui dinh ve quan li dau tu va xay dung cac khu do thi moi, cai tao va sua chua nha o tren dia ban thanh pho Ha noi (Decision on the Regulations on the Investment and Construction of the New Urban Areas, on Housing Renovation and Repair in Hanoi City).

Hoai Anh Tran, “Urban Space Production in Transition: The Cases of the New Urban Areas of Hanoi,” Urban Policy and Research 33, no. 1 (2014).

Luan, T. Duy. “Living in “New Urban Areas”: towards sustainable urban communities in Hanoi, Vietnam.” Environmental Impact II, 2014.

2 Comments on “15. Planned (but incomplete) public facilities – comparing public services in NUAs and old quarters

  1. The execution taken place by the developers is really disappointing. Apart from the execution, I am curious whether the original planning is appropriate. Specifically, what factors were being considered when deciding the spatial distribution of pubic facilities like medical clinics? Certain public facilities like clinics, community centre and hospital are crucial to improve the living of the elderly and promote aging in place. If an elderly live in a region with no medical facilities and community centre nearby, it is not easy for him to live in his own place and community. In Hong Kong, elderly daycare centre and community centre are always not evenly distributed and not highly accessible. To improve the elderly people living standard and allow aging in place, the developers should ensure an even and accessible distribution of various public facilities to be built for the elderly residents in the community.

  2. It is unfortunate to see that the great shortage of the facilities in the region. However, I think it might be hard to justify the efficiency and effectiveness of the planning and its execution of the NUAs region merely from the distribution of facilities and their locations. I would like to see more research or comparisons of the usage and habits related to the establishment of these infrastructural and civic facilities.
    I believe other factors such as transportation network and the demographic distribution of the region are to be taken into consideration. As far as I understand, motorcycle is one of the major transportation vehicles used in Vietnam and it produced a different ecology compared with car-oriented planning thus a very different lifestyle. This is only my guess but it might also have contributed to the scarce distribution of the facilities which is needed to be further examined.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.