Gov't urged to adjust urban renewal programs
The China Post news staffTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Given decreasing birth rates and an aging society, the government should move to promote mergers of schools, re-utilize idle school premises and adjust urban renewal plans accordingly, said a local realty and urban renewal expert recently.
January 6, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
Ding Chih-cheng, chief executive officer of the Urban Regeneration R&D Foundation, issued the call at a seminar held on Jan. 4 by the Sinyi Research Center for Real Estate under the College of Commerce of National Chengchi University. Scholars and experts were invited to discuss the impact of the changing population structure on the housing market and seek relevant countermeasures.
Ding said that the decreasing birth rate and the aging population are not just social welfare and finance issues; they will also have an impact on the nation's urban renewal programs. He said schools and public facilities will suffer low utilization rates and their maintenance costs will rise significantly as a result.
For instance, Ding said, the Lao Song Elementary School in Wanhua District of Taipei used to have 11,110 students in 158 classes during its heyday in 1996, but now it has only a little more than 900 students in 31 classes.
He advised the government to duplicate Japan's experience in merging schools and make idle school premises available for residential, commercial and cultural uses.
Ding stressed that the government should stand by its plan to expand urban development and should not deal with urban renewal programs based on traditional floor area ratios and established ratios for public facilities.
At the same seminar, Hsueh Li-ming, chairman of the Chinese Society of Housing Studies and professor at the Department of International Business under China University of Technology, urged the government to offer incentives for senior owners of old houses to change houses.
If the old houses are located in downtown areas, the owners should be allowed to move to new houses with elevators or larger space, or get two new houses that can also accommodate their children, Hsueh added.
Hsueh went on to say that the government should encourage construction firms to build housing units suitable for senior citizens and their families.
According to Sinyi Realty Inc., Taiwan's population growth will become stagnant in the next decade, with the population aged over 65 to increase by 1.5 million. One of every three houses in Taiwan will be more than 40 years old, with the number of old housing units on the island to exceed 2 million units.