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New body proposed to improve land use
Newspaper section: Business
Published: 13/05/2009 at 12:00 AM

A public organisation for national land development would improve the management of land usage in the city and suburban areas, suggests Sopon Pornchokchai, chairman of the Agency for Real Estate Affairs (Area).

The proposed organisation should acquire about 5,000 rai of land with infrastructure in the city or suburbs to sell to property developers, helping them to speed up the process of land acquisition while reducing the cost.

He proposed that the organisation be authorised to accumulate land plots at prices based on the market price or up to 30% higher in order to encourage land owners to sell their plots. The sites could be used for residential units, office, retail facilities or industrial estates.

It should be able to buy land plots from the private sector or government agencies and should co-ordinate with Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning in order to ensure that developments would be in line with the city plan.

Mr Sopon said an AREA study found that many residential projects in suburban areas had been left empty or with low occupancy rates, resulting in economic waste.

He said the capacity of developers would depend on the ability to acquire land, which consumed time as landlords refused to sell the plots. Consequently city expansion has been horizontal, resulting in improper city planning.

He also suggested the government allow higher densities in Bangkok, increasing the floor area ratio from the current 10:1 to 15:1, but developers would then pay higher taxes, so that the government could earn revenue.

"This measure will increase construction space for Bangkok. If we can add one million square metres of space a year, at the value of 50,000 baht per sq m, it will result in additional value of 50 billion baht," Mr Sopon added.

He proposed the government consider carefully the construction of some mass-transit routes to the outskirts as the fares would be unaffordable to residents in some areas.

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