Clear policy shift in Urban Development | Sunday Observer

Clear policy shift in Urban Development

Advisor to the National Housing Development Authority (NHDA), Susil Siriwardena (second from left - first row)   PICTURE BY SULOCHANA GAMAGE
Advisor to the National Housing Development Authority (NHDA), Susil Siriwardena (second from left - first row) PICTURE BY SULOCHANA GAMAGE

The Government has undertaken a clear policy shift from the previous model of urban development with a participatory community-led approach in place, as opposed to a State-led approach undertaken by the previous government, a senior policy advisor told a forum on Friday.

Addressing the inauguration of the fifth International Conference on Urban Design on Cities, People and Places (ICCPP2017), Senior Advisor to the National Housing Development Authority (NHDA), Susil Siriwardena said the new approach will result in the National Physical Planning Department working hand in hand with the NHDA to implement the National Housing Strategy without overlapping functions. “In the current context, we have an aspirational middle income society where people have aspirations that the whole of Sri Lanka can develop simultaneously. Hence, we need to devise a new model for economic development by looking at economic growth and prosperity, social equity and harmony, environment sustainability and individual happiness. To achieve these, we have to look at building social capital, optimizing land and attracting finance capital,” he said.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe delivering the Economic Statement in Parliament had also stated that the government’s draft national housing policy is to be built on three key features with the role of the government being relegated to that of a delegated authority.

The government has allocated Rs. 75 billion to the National Savings Bank to provide housing loans at concessionary rates and a further Rs. 75 billion for the Urban Regeneration Program (URP) and other housing programs.

“First, the policy is a people centric policy. People will engage in decision-making, actions, and responsibilities. Second, we are going to pursue integrated and inclusive urban housing development. Third, we will ensure that housing development is sustainable,” the Prime Minister said.

He said that the government will play the central role in setting the framework for housing development, but a lesser role in providing investment as it will be the people and the private sector taking control of investments on housing.

The Department of Architecture of the University of Moratuwa in collaboration with its international and national academic partners held the technical sessions of the ICCPP-2017 at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute in Colombo on the theme, ‘Urbanization Futures: Policies, Strategies and Implications of Densification of Cities’. The conference dealt with a variety of topics which included urban densification strategies, urban development and management, mega city concepts, housing densities, urban intensifications, urban governance, place studies and character studies.