High-rise developers caught in a bind
Some 55 developers with in-principle agreements handed out by the previous government have been told by YCDC they will have to make modifications in order to receive formal building approval.
NEARLY one third of Yangon’s highrise building projects given in-principle construction permission under the previous government have been told to go back to the drawing board and make design changes despite already breaking ground on their developments, Yangon City Development Committee said last week.
In May, YCDC put a halt to all high-rise construction as part of a city-wide review. Authorities said at the time that any building project nine storeys or higher that had received a permit in-principle under the previous government would need to suspend construction until the review was completed.
Many of the 185 projects that had received the tentative permission have started foundation work on their developments, while 64 projects that had been given full building permission under the previous administration were allowed to continue.
The high-rise inspection committee tasked with the review recently submitted its findings to Yangon region government, U Than Htay, head of YCDC’s building department, told The Myanmar Times on September 9.
The committee has instructed developers among 55 projects, all of which had begun laying foundations, to amend their designs to cater for an array of varying specifications, including modifying drainage systems, amending car park requirements and, in some cases, also seeking permission from ministries that own land adjacent to the project, U Than Htay said.
“After the findings of the inspection committee were submitted to Yangon region government, the chief minister allowed the department to negotiate with the developers to let them know they could proceed with their application process, after they understand what changes they should make,” he said. “The changes needed are different in each project.”
Of the remaining 130 projects that have received the tentative permission, they will still need to submit more paperwork before they can receive their final permits, U Than Htay said, but they do not require any significant structural changes.
‘They need to make appropriate modifications to ensure the required standards.’
U Than Htay
Yangon City Development Committee
“They need to submit their application which is in line with the required standards,” he said. “For cases where they need to make immediate changes, they need to make fixes in accordance with the standards before they apply the final permit,” he said.
The move has many disgruntled property developers counting their losses.
“We were invited by YCDC to resubmit our project for approval after we make some modifications,” said U Kyaw Kyaw Naing, director of iGreen Construction.
The company had spent about US$4 million to $5 million on a project’s foundation and design, he said.
“If we do as we are told, we will face enormous losses,” he said, adding that he had no choice but to resubmit the design.
Developers came together in July to warn that any arbitrary changes demanded by the government could cause up to $6 billion in losses and force many companies to go bankrupt.
“We were told to modify the height of the area of the car park entry and to set the building a bit further back from the road,” complained one high-rise developer last week, asking not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter. “But piles have already been driven in and set up according to the previous design, where we have spent millions of dollars.”
Developers have said that the government review jeopardises its reputation among foreign investors and will impact local jobs in the construction sector.
But the inspection committee has maintained that it will ensure the long-term sustainability of a wellplanned Yangon.
“While they are working through their process to apply for a final permit, they need to make appropriate modifications to ensure the required standards,” YCDC’s U Than Htay said.
YCDC officials inspect a high-rise project in Yangon on June 21.