YHT calls for green space at rail­way site

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - TIN YADANAR TUN tinyada­nar­tun@mm­times.com

Yan­gon Her­itage Trust says the Cen­tral Rail­way Sta­tion is un­der­de­vel­oped and should be re­designed in a way that pro­motes more pub­lic space.

ONE OF down­town Yan­gon’s largest pock­ets of un­de­vel­oped land presents a unique op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a use­able pub­lic space, says Yan­gon Her­itage Trust, sin­gling out the Yan­gon Rail­way Sta­tion site in its new ur­ban plan­ning re­port.

YHT has pro­posed that the 63acre site be­tween the cen­tral sta­tion and Aung San Sta­dium be re­designed as a large pub­lic square. They sug­gest the site could be, at least in part, des­ig­nated a green space, de­vel­oped for the pur­pose of hold­ing fes­ti­vals, night mar­kets and sports events.

“The Yan­gon Rail­way Sta­tion site is the one rare great blank space near the cen­tre of down­town,” said YHT di­rec­tor Daw Moe Moe Lwin.

The site has been the sub­ject of a pub­lic ten­der process by Myanma Rail­ways. A short­list of 15 potential de­vel­op­ers was re­leased in Fe­bru­ary this year.

The an­nounce­ment of suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cants is slated to be made in May next year in state me­dia. This is the se­cond ten­der process for the site. Ini­tial calls for ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est were made in 2014, but can­celled in 2015 – re­port­edly due to a lack of suit­able ap­pli­ca­tions.

Daw Moe Moe Lwin said the site is of real im­por­tance in down­town Yan­gon’s ur­ban devel­op­ment, and that short-, medium- and long-term plan­ning for any ma­jor con­struc­tion projects is cru­cial.

“There are many view points to see Sh­wedagon Pagoda, Saint Paul’s, and many of Yan­gon’s char­ac­ter­is­tic her­itage build­ings,” she said. “If we have many high-rise build­ings on that land, views will be blocked.”

“The Rail­way Sta­tion needs to pro­vide so­cial ben­e­fit for Yan­gon res­i­dents. We would like to have more pub­lic spa­ces for res­i­dents in­cluded un­der any new projects on that land,” she said.

She urged that trans­port be given se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion, sug­gest­ing safe pedes­trian ac­cess as well as bus stops for ac­cess­ing the rail­way net­work was nec­es­sary. Sim­i­larly, estab­lish­ing a car park could take some of the strain off nearby side streets, she said.

YHT says the site presents a key op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide Yan­gon with an enhanced trans­port hub that links into a wider bus net­work, the Cir­cle Line and Myan­mar’s na­tional rail­way sys­tem.

Yan­gon Her­itage Trust was formed in 2012 and ad­vo­cates for pro­tec­tion of her­itage build­ings, as well as de­vel­op­ing sus­tain­able poli­cies to pro­mote the city’s unique ur­ban land­scape. They aim to com­bine devel­op­ment and preser­va­tion, in order to mould Yan­gon into one of Asia’s most liv­able cities.

Kyauk­tada town­ship res­i­dent U Phay Myint said, in terms of down­town pub­lic spa­ces, there is cur­rently only Ma­ha­ban­doola Park. He said he sup­ports the idea of de­vel­op­ing a sports field or night mar­ket within the rail­way sta­tion area, along­side any new high-rise build­ings and of­fice tow­ers.

“There are large spa­ces within the Yan­gon Rail­way Sta­tion site and that no one can use that space at the mo­ment is a pity. If there are pub­lic spa­ces, res­i­dents of down­town can go for sport or to a night mar­ket with fam­ily. It will be a very good and pros­per­ous place,” he said.

“The govern­ment may al­ready have projects for that land, but we hope they will im­ple­ment pub­lic spa­ces within that area,” he said, adding that there were other large govern­ment-owned sites that could also be bet­ter used.

“I would like to de­velop not only that rail­way sta­tion but also the spa­ces of old min­istry build­ings,” he said.

Ma Thiri, a reg­u­lar com­muter be­tween down­town and Min­gal­adon town­ship, said she prefers to use the train due to the city’s ever-wors­en­ing traf­fic prob­lem.

“Traf­fic is very bad – if I go home by car, it takes over two hours from down­town. If I take the train, it takes no more than 50 min­utes,” she said.

How­ever, Ma Thiri said the rail­way site in its cur­rent state comes with its own set of safety con­cerns – some­thing she feels could be al­le­vi­ated by im­proved light­ing and devel­op­ment.

“While it is a large space, I don’t dare to go into the com­pound at night ex­cept to go to the rail­way sta­tion. We can see many va­grants in the sur­round­ing area. If there are good roads with full lights, peo­ple can go com­fort­ably without be­ing afraid. Crim­i­nal cases will also de­crease,” she said.

‘The Yan­gon Rail­way Sta­tion site is the one rare great blank space near the cen­tre of down­town.’

Daw Moe Moe Lwin Yan­gon Her­itage Trust

Photo: Aung Myin Ye Zaw

Pedes­tri­ans walk by Yan­gon Rail­way Sta­tion, a site that the Yan­gon Her­itage Trust would like to see de­vel­oped into a more pub­lic-friendly space.

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