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[2013] Mayor’s Speech

  • We Will Work to Implement Seoul’s 100-year Master Plan Like a Farmer Waiting for Seeds to Sprout

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    Announcement of “Seoul’s Next 100 Years Based on Urban Planning”

    Date: April 1, 2013
    Venue: Briefing Room, Seoul City Hall

    We are here for a press briefing, but I would like this event to become a starting point of discussions on Seoul’s next 100 years. “How should we approach urban planning in Seoul?” This question implicates a wide range of concerns and perspectives. Now, I would like to make an announcement on “Seoul’s 100-year Master Plan Based on Urban Planning”.

    Urban planning is concerned not only with the use of land, but also encompasses a wide range of policies, including policies on welfare, industry, education, and culture. Therefore, some say that urban planning is nearly same as the administration of a local autonomy.

    Today, what I want to highlight the most is how urban spaces will be used throughout each stage. Reflecting upon past urban planning, we will seek ways to achieve a thriving future for Seoul.

    Since my inauguration, I have addressed a variety of issues and conflicts regarding urban planning. Pi-city, one of the New Town projects, Pinetree, and the recent re-development project in Yongsan were considered very complicated and highly contentious. In order to resolve these issues and conflicts, I flew around Seoul in a helicopter, took a boat down the Hangang River, and even walked along the Seoul City Wall with experts. During these trips, I pondered various means of finding solutions. As many of the issues were intertwined, it was difficult to come to any clear conclusions.

    In the end, the realization I came to was that it is necessary to seek consensus from Seoul citizens regarding the philosophy and principle of urban planning. If we comply with the principles agreed upon in this way, we should be able to come up with fundamental solutions.

    I have repeatedly said that I want to be remembered as a mayor who did nothing. What I meant by that is I will not seek only short-term or visible, superficial results. Instead, I will focus on rooting out fundamental problems—no matter how long it takes—with your support and participation.

    So, why do we need a 100-year master plan for Seoul? The reason is related to the irreversibility of development; after it is achieved, it is impossible to go back to square one. Now, Seoul must pursue development with a long-term perspective—development that is planned and carried out with the intention of lasting for 100 years or more. But, how does this compare to Seoul’s urban planning over the past 100 years?

    In 1912, the Gyeongseong City Street Improvement Project was announced. Its goal was to make it easier for the Japanese to control Seoul during the Japanese colonial period. Since that time, while overcoming its history of humiliation, Seoul has seen remarkable economic growth and risen out of the ashes of war and extreme poverty. Without a doubt, Seoul has become a global city. Also, while achieving remarkably rapid economic development, houses, roads, and water and sewage systems were also built rapidly. This contributed greatly to the establishment of Seoul’s physical infrastructure.

    Unfortunately, Koreans either forgot or ignored many of their basic values during this period of development. I think most of the issues Seoul now faces have their roots in this loss of values. In other words, we have achieved modernization in terms of socio-economic infrastructure, but the modernization of urban planning still has a long way to go.

    In particular, we did not sufficiently consider our natural environment and surroundings or our historical culture and cultural assets, and from a human perspective, we completely ignored the people and communities. Also, consensus among citizens regarding the future of Seoul—namely, a framework for urban planning—failed to meet the level of Seoul’s economic development.

    Considering this, how should we now carry out urban planning in Seoul over the next 100 years? Basically, I believe that the values pursued by the people should be included in urban planning while carrying out development that restores the identity of Seoul. Future challenges, such as climate change, should be tackled while responding swiftly to various issues, including the current prolonged period of low growth, the rapidly aging population, and the increase in single and two-person households.

    For instance, if the surrounding areas of the Hangang River were to be re-developed, we should first carefully consider the diverse values and opinions of homeowners regarding various issues, such as future development of the area, accessibility to the Hangang River, and the skyline. Thus, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will set up a framework that encompasses Seoul’s diverse values and induces citizen participation. As a result, it is hoped that future generations will be able to enjoy the legacy of past generations.

    The picture here symbolizes today’s master plan. The core goal of the 100-year urban planning initiative is to build a platform that will remain steadfast over time. It will also pursue the establishment of a framework for Seoul’s next 100 years and common ground upon which Seoul citizens and experts can work together. Principles and standards based on public consensus and social agreements will lead to the creation of a predictable and refined framework, measures will be set up to realize the sustainable development of Seoul, and our limited land resources be actively and carefully managed. Furthermore, the aforementioned issues will be discussed through cooperative governance that allows the direct participation of diverse members.

    The goals and values Seoul needs to pursue—the restoration of Seoul’s identity, improvement of the quality of life, equal development of local regions, sustainable development, and strengthening of the city’s competitiveness—will be realized via the platforms of urban planning, such as an urban planning framework and cooperative governance.

    As such, if the foundation of urban planning becomes stronger, we should be able to realize the diverse values pursued by Seoul based on a clear vision, predictability, and social consensus.

    Having recognized this, I will now outline the specific goals Seoul City aims to achieve.

    First of all, based on citizen agreement and participation, we will set up sustainable principles and standards regarding urban planning in Seoul. We will seek social consensus on a variety of management plan standards, including the Charter of Urban Planning, the 2030 Seoul Plan, and the Principle of Public Contribution. Among these, the Charter of Urban Planning will include the unchangeable value of Seoul that transcends time. Since last August, by launching a separate charter division within the Seoul Urban Planning Committee, we have discussed the significance of stipulating the charter, in addition to its format and value. The specifics will be determined while we bring together more ideas on the issue. In this regard, I look forward to the close attention and participation of Seoul citizens.

    If the Charter of Urban Planning is established, the citizens will be able to share their philosophies and perspectives on Seoul’s urban planning, and the predictability of urban management will increase as a result. Furthermore, the directions of related projects will become clearer, serving to reduce project periods considerably. Not only that, the consistency and continuity of urban planning will be guaranteed by becoming a factor in the decision-making process.

    The 2030 Seoul Plan is Seoul’s top priority urban plan. It is also the first plan to be decided by the citizens themselves while reflecting diverse humanistic and social values. The future of Seoul as characterized by its citizens is “a happy Seoul filled with communication and consideration.” In order to realize a future such as this, key issues, goals, and strategies are being devised with the participation of six divisions and 109 citizens, experts, and public officials. The first draft will be announced in May.

    In addition to the enactment of the Charter of Urban Planning, which will define the new principles and standards of Seoul’s urban planning, and the establishment of the 2030 Seoul Plan, a more refined urban planning framework will be set up by region.

    Until now, Seoul’s urban planning framework has been similar to that of a city with a population of 100,000. However, in order to properly accommodate the 10 million residents of Seoul, more meticulous urban planning that is carried out on a smaller “life zone” scale—such as at the level of two or three dong administrative units—will be established, and additional management plans for areas like Seoul City Wall and the Hangang River will be devised.

    Among them, the basic plan for managing the areas surrounding the Hangang River, which was established based upon the management directions set last year by the Seoul Urban Planning Committee, will be specified by the first half of 2015. The “life zone” plan is a new type of urban planning framework that delves into small-scale living areas while taking issues close to the lives of the citizens into consideration. Thus, plans for five regions in Seoul, as well as small-scale living areas, consisting of two to three dong, will be established as well. Since last year, we have been working to formulate basic research and model plans, and such plans will be put into practice from the latter half of this year, thereby refining the urban planning framework of Seoul by the end of 2015.

    As a reference, I will show you some blueprints that were drawn up to help you gain a better understanding of the life zone plan. This blueprint demonstrates the overall picture of how four regions in the northeastern part of Seoul will be newly organized and developed. The blueprint here reflects the opinions of residents and shows the “moving line of small-scale life zones,” while the next blueprint shows a comprehensive view of this “moving line”.

    I will also tell you about how Seoul plans to achieve sustainable development by formulating principles and standards while reinforcing the planning framework. Now, the paradigm of Seoul’s urban planning will shift from development and planning based on physical environments to urban renewal centered on the people. By managing our limited land resources in a systematic manner, we will realize better development and firmly establish a sustainable urban renewal strategy amid a period of low growth. Advanced countries such as the U.K. have adopted the concept of renewal—which differs from redevelopment in that it includes economic and social advancements—into their urban planning since the 1980s.

    Now, Seoul will define its vision and the goals of its urban renewal by integrating previous experiences with urban development and establishing new urban management directions for local communities. Improvement in physical environments as well as an urban regeneration strategy that puts people and the community ahead of all else with the aim of facilitating the local economy will be pursued.

    Seoul has already exhausted its supply of land for development. Therefore, the key to the 100-year master plan is to manage its limited land resources systematically and leverage them properly for the development of Seoul. A database will be built by reviewing the land available for development, and priorities will be set depending on the characteristics of each lot. Support for land development, including its usage, will be managed and implemented in a systematic manner.

    In the past, public institutions limited their roles to reviewing and approving the urban development projects suggested by private firms, but now they will act as public developers based on cooperation with experts, partnerships with private entities, and communication with citizens. To this end, the Seoul City Public Development Center will be established, and its capacity will be reinforced further down the road.

    Last but not least, all of these will be realized together with you. Previously, the establishment and realization of urban planning had been led by administrators, experts, and landowners, who neglected to seek consensus from Seoul citizens. However, in order to realize sustainable urban planning, it is critical to build a framework of cooperative governance in the process. Opportunities to participate from the preparatory stage should be broadened, and interested local residents as well as nearby residents affected by the policy, should be encouraged to participate.

    The subsequent plan will be fundamentally based on citizen participation. When designing the Seoul Plan, the next 20 years of Seoul was drawn up by the citizens themselves. As I have just mentioned, Seoul’s diverse urban plans will be made together with the citizens, and when proceeding with a development project, the validity of the project will first be reviewed through expert forums and public competitions—through which ideas are compiled.

    The timeline of “Seoul’s Next 100 Years Based on Urban Planning” is as follows:

    By the end of 2013, the principles and standards of Seoul’s urban planning, including the Charter of Urban Planning and the 2030 Seoul Plan, will be clearly defined. By the end of 2015, the plan will stretch out to small-scale life zones while completing a more meticulously-designed framework by setting up management plans for various areas, such as the areas surrounding the Hangang River and historic sites. This year, Seoul’s 100-year Master Plan, the Green City Declaration, management directions for the areas surrounding the Hangang River, strengthening of land resources, operation of the Seoul City Public Development Center, and the 2030 Seoul Plan will be announced publicly.

    Distinguished reporters,

    This year marks the beginning of a new 100 years in urban planning, which differs significantly from the past 100 years. Genuine modernity in Seoul’s urban planning awaits us. While refraining from holding out too much hope for tangible short-term results, we will step forward to consolidate Seoul’s 100-year master plan, like a farmer waiting for the seeds to sprout.

    The master plan will be executed based the participation and social consensus of citizens. Lastly, I would like to emphasize that we truly require the interest and participation of the citizens in urban planning. With your support, Seoul will not only become a good city, but a great one.