Law on Urban Planning
From January 1, 2010, urban planning activities, organization of the realization of urban planning, and management of urban development according to planning will be governed by the Law on Urban Planning (the Law).

From January 1, 2010, urban planning activities, organization of the realization of urban planning, and management of urban development according to planning will be governed by the Law on Urban Planning (the Law).

Under the six-chapter and 76-article Law, there are three types of urban planning: general planning, which is made for a whole urban center; zoning planning, which concretizes general planning and serves as a basis for identifying construction investment projects within an urban center and formulating detailed planning; and detailed planning, which is made to meet urban development and management requirements or construction investment needs and serves as a basis for licensing construction and formulating construction investment projects.

Collection of comments on urban planning

The collection of comments on urban planning aims to ensure the feasibility and practicality of urban plans.

Comments of concerned agencies, organizations and individuals will be collected by sending dossiers and documents or holding conferences or workshops. Comments of communities on general planning tasks and plans will be collected through survey cards and questionnaires. Community representatives will synthesize comments of their communities in accordance with the law on grassroots democracy. Comments of communities on zoning planning and detailed planning tasks and plans shall be collected by opinion polls through public display or introduction of planning options on the mass media. Comments must be reported to competent authorities for consideration before approval.

The time for giving comments is at least 15 days, for agencies, or 30 days, for organizations, individuals and communities.

Evaluation and approval of urban planning

The Law sets new regulations on the order of and procedures for the evaluation and approval of urban planning with a view to simplifying and reforming administrative procedures and clearly defining powers and responsibilities of each state agency to manage each type of planning.

Local administrations are strongly decentralized to approve planning. The Prime Minister will approve only general planning tasks and plans of centrally run urban centers, grade-I urban centers and new urban centers with an expected population equivalent to that of grade-III or higher-grade urban centers; specialized technical infrastructure planning of special-grade urban centers; and other urban planning of special national political, cultural, historical, economic and social importance.

Publicization of planning

Within 30 days after being approved, urban plans must be publicized by constant display of their drawings and mock-ups at offices of urban planning-related state management agencies at all levels, urban planning exhibition and information centers and planned areas; information on the mass media; or printing of publications for wide dissemination.

Contents to be publicized include basic details of plans and promulgated regulations on management according to urban plans and urban designs, excluding contents related to defense, security and national secrets.

People’s Committees of cities, towns or townships will publicize general plans made for their cities, towns or townships, while People’s Committees of urban districts or rural districts under centrally run cities and People’s Committees of provincial cities, towns or townships will publicize zoning plans and detailed planning made for areas within the administrative boundaries under their management.

Urban planning management agencies must update information on the implementation of approved plans for timely publicization by competent authorities to organizations and individuals for information and supervision. These agencies are also responsible for providing information on approved plans to organizations and individuals upon request.

People’s Committees at all levels must formulate and approve boundary-marker placement dossiers within 30 days after a plan is approved. On-field marker placement must be completed within 45 days after a marker placement dossier is approved.

Management of urban development

Issuance of planning licenses is part of the management of construction according to urban planning. In reality, due to limited funds for planning work, many urban areas lack approved detailed planning and urban designs. To help investors make detailed planning or work construction investment projects in unplanned areas, administrations of urban centers will issue urban planning licenses. Planning licenses will also be issued for planned areas when their boundaries or some land use criteria need to be adjusted for the implementation of work construction investment projects. The issuance of planning licenses must be based on actual development management and control requirements, urban planning regulations and urban planning and architecture management regulations.

A planning license contains information on the scope and size of the planned area, permitted land use norms, requirements on land exploitation and use, organization of architectural space, social infrastructure and urban technical infrastructure on the ground and underground, protection of landscapes and environment in the area assigned to the investor, and validity duration of the license.

The issuance of planning licenses aims to reform administrative procedures in the field of urban construction planning management and define responsibilities of state agencies towards investors, especially reducing procedures for reaching agreement on planning which often trouble investors and lead to arbitrary and negative practices in urban planning management.

The Law also sets principles of management of urban space, architecture and landscape. Specifically, owners of architectural objects affecting urban space, architecture and landscape must protect and maintain their objects in the course of exploitation and use to ensure their beauty, safety and harmony with surrounding space. The building, renovation, refurbishment, repair or dismantlement of architectural objects and trees in public areas and premises of works and houses which affect urban space, architecture and landscape are subject to permission of competent management agencies. Before formulating investment projects to build big works of important significance and status in urban centers, architectural designs must be selected through competitions.

The Law assigns People’s Committees at all levels, based on approved plans, to promulgate regulations on urban planning and architecture management to suit their local practical requirements. Urban land must be managed and used for proper purposes and functions as defined in approved urban plans.

In the course of developing modern urban centers, it is necessary to exploit and use underground space for the construction of underground works. The Law stipulates that the management of underground space and construction of underground works must comply with approved urban planning, regulations on construction of underground works, planning licenses and construction licenses. The construction of works on the ground must not affect underground space already determined in approved urban planning. At the same time, the construction of underground works must not affect works on the ground, underground works and space already existing or determined in urban planning. The construction of transport routes and public underground works must ensure safety and suitability with the organization, exploitation and use of space underground and on the ground and ensure convenient connection with traffic works underground and on the ground. The construction of technical tunnels and trenches must not affect the use of space on the ground and must ensure safe exploitation, operation, repair and maintenance.

Organizations and individuals must observe approved urban planning and regulations on urban planning and architecture management when implementing urban construction and development investment programs and plans, specialized planning within urban centers or urban land use plans, managing the implementation of construction investment projects within urban centers, managing urban space, architecture and landscape, or performing other urban planning-related jobs. The State encourages domestic and foreign organizations and individuals to finance the formulation of urban planning.

The Law will serve as an effective tool for improving the state management of urban construction and development, ensuring the sustainable development of the whole system of urban centers as well as each urban center into civilized and modern ones.

To enforce the Law, the Government is expected to issue in November this year three decrees on the formulation, evaluation, approval and management of urban planning; the management of urban space, architecture and landscape; and the management of underground space.(VLLF)-

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