To keep up with the rapid urbanization in the country, the Ministry of Construction on May 7 issued Decree No. 42/2009/ND-CP to replace Decree No. 72/2001/ND-CP on classification of urban centers and grading of urban management authorities, adding some new criteria for sustainable urban development.
Currently criteria on social infrastructure facilities stop short at determining land areas and utility functions of these facilities, failing to reflect their service quality urban life. This led to the situation that many urban centers, after being classified into higher classes, lack investment in infrastructure development to fully attain criteria of their classes, therefore could provide poor-quality urban services.
Under the new regulations, effective from July 2, urban centers, are now divided into six classes and subject to several more specific and practical criteria such as number of inhabitants (at least 4,000) and density, ratio of non-agricultural laborers in inner towns or cities (at least 65%), availability of environmental pollution treatment works to keep environmental sanitation below the permitted level, complete infrastructure facilities, and urban landscape.
Greater importance is attached to the urban construction planning to be approved by competent authorities, especially for cities or towns expected to have their administrative boundaries expanded and newly built ones. In special cases subject to requirements of national territorial or sovereignty management or socio-economic development management, the level of administrations of planned urban areas can be decided by competent authorities before these areas are actually invested to attain basic criteria for urban classification.
Centrally run cities may be classified as special-class, class-1 or class-2 urban centers having urban districts, rural districts (outskirts) and with or without satellite towns. Provincial cities are of class 1 or 2 and have downtown wards and suburban communes. Provincial cities and towns with urban wards and suburban communes are of class 3. Other towns and district townships with populous street quarters and rural residential areas are of class 4 or 5.
The capital or special-class cities must have a population of five million, population density of 15,000 people/km2 and non-agricultural laborers accounting for 90% of the total labor force in the inner city, and 100% of newly built production establishments furnished with environmentally friendly equipment.-