Creating positive communities with sustainable urban growth.
In 2013, Seoul Metropolitan Government, in an effort to reshape the city with citizen participation, changed the direction of its urban policy from development to regeneration. The policy is designed to encourage active engagement and collaboration between the city administration and residents amid rapid socio-cultural change.
The Metropolitan Government of Seoul is undertaking 131 urban regeneration projects that are focused on improving the physical structure of the city and re-vitalizing community programs through public-private partnerships, ultimately contributing to the creation of positive community identities and sustainable urban growth.
This project was shortlisted for the 'Guangzhou Award' in 2018 in the following category: Deserving initiative.
Traditionally, Seoul Metropolitan Government has followed the traditional top-down decision-making approach in formulating and implementing urban policies. However, the new urban plan demonstrates a paradigm shift to bottom-up approaches that encourage citizen engagement for both regional development and sustainable urban growth.
- Stabilized housing prices for low-income families
- Restoring communities
- Preserving historic and cultural places of significance
- Sustainable development and growth
Seoul Metropolitan Government is committed to adopt bottom-up approaches in formulating its urban regeneration plans. By incorporating citizens’ voices into the planning and decision-making processes, the City succeeded in minimizing citizens’ complaints while maximizing their satisfaction with the projects. Citizens were named as honorary deputy mayors in different districts and 13 regions were designated as bellwethers for urban regeneration activities.
Seoul Metropolitan Government’s urban regeneration department is comprised of 200 staff members who work together across 53 divisions of Seoul City and 17 bureaus of the central government, including the Land Ministry. Furthermore, 2,684 citizens are actively participating in various urban regeneration projects and as members of 73 resident councils.
With the launch of the urban regeneration project, Seoul Metropolitan Government created the Urban Regeneration Support Center consisting of a group of experts, Seoul City officials, and community activists. The Urban Regeneration Support Center serves as a liaison between the public sector and local residents. Currently, the center has 23 offices throughout Seoul and employs 187 people.
An interactive website has been launched to provide citizens with the opportunity to share their opinions on local issues and open up the entire decision-making process to them so that the various parties involved can learn from one another.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government monitors the urban regeneration progress of the areas every two to three years by conducting interviews, field inspections, and surveys through the Urban Regeneration Support Center. After the completion of each five- to six-year public project, the Seoul Institute prepares a report on the outcome of the project for assessment by the advisory committee.
Seoul City has allocated KRW 1.06 trillion for its urban regeneration projects designed to promote active citizenship and improve community infrastructure.
Additional funding from 92 institutions, including colleges and businesses, by offering incentives and relaxing regulations has also be secured.
In addition, the City is engaging in R&D activities with the aim of applying smart technologies to the entire process of forming, planning, and executing governance. The Seoul Institute focuses on R&D activities and the monitoring of various urban regeneration projects, while the Seoul Housing Corporation is responsible for the implementation of Seoul City’s urban regeneration plans.
Following projects have been implemented using the frame work of Seoul Government’s Urban regeneration policy:
- Seoullo 7017 project: the city administration held 615 meetings with local residents to facilitate the transformation of an old highway overpass into a 1.2-kilometer-long elevated park filled with 24,000 plants. As of now, over 10 million people have visited the park (average of 30,000 each day), 32 festivals have been held and local businesses in the area are thriving as their sales grow.
- Sewoon Shopping Center, located in front of Jongmyo, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, was slated for demolition with a skyscraper tobe erected in its place. The city administration spent seven years negotiating with the public sector and local residents to preserve the shopping center and protect the existing landscape of Jongmyo. As a result, it is now home to 26 startup companies and serves as an innovative hub for the Fourth Industrial Revolution that is integrated with the area’s existing parts manufacturing industry. The Sewoon Shopping Center project is expected to create 34,000 jobs as it generates significant ripple effects on the development of nearby areas by the public sector. The roof top observatory has become a tourist attraction that offers a view of Jongmyo.
- Seoul Metropolitan Government spent KRW 54 billion on the pedestrian bridge construction project, which was undertaken to link existing shopping centers with bridges rather than redeveloping them as skyscrapers.
- The Changsin-Sungin district, was a rundown area in Seoul’s urban center.The city government has addressed planning and environmental issues in the area, and this has increased economic and social opportunities for citizens through the creation of a clean and safe community and the growth of the local sewing industry. In relation to the “Changsin-Sungin Region for the Promotion of and Support for Urban Regeneration” project, residents opted to preserve and improve the area rather than completely demolishing and rebuilding it. With this, Seoul City injected over KRW 20 billion of public funds into improving the living environment of the area, improving alleys, repairing old houses, and replacing sewer lines, among others. It also renovated the birth house of Nam June Paik, a world-renowned media artist, to create Nam June Park Memorial House, which will serve as a historic and cultural resource of the area. This local landmark is now visited by over 7,000 people every month.
Currently, over 13 million people have visited the 32 places that have been created through Seoul City’s urban regeneration projects.
Over the last 50 years, Seoul City has sustained remarkable economic growth. However, this has been accompanied by problems, such as the destruction of cultural and heritage sites, the ghettoization of urban centers, soaring housing prices and subsequently a housing shortage for low-income families, and the dismantlement of local communities. To address this, the city administrations’ urban regeneration plan aims to restore local communities and achieve sustainable urban growth through public-private partnership and citizen engagement.
Additionally, there have been concerns over the negative effects of excessive gentrification. However, for the sake of mutual growth, property owners in nine areas have agreed not to increase rents. There are 99 cooperatives and social economic organizations in those areas as well.
The urban regeneration policy has been used as a benchmark by other local governments in Korea and prompted the central government to promote the Urban Regeneration project as a major national policy.
An increasing number of public officials from other cities are visiting Seoul to learn about the city’s successful urban regeneration models. Driven by this interest, the city government published a whitepaper to share various regeneration examples and data with other cities.
In May 2017, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon visited the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam as an ASEAN envoy, where he introduced the Korean government’s policy vision.
The University of Seoul launched a two-year program to provide public officials in other Asian countries the opportunity to study Seoul’s urban policy in Korea.
A growing number of government officials from cities in China, Japan, Russia, Thailand, and Singapore have visited Seoul to learn more about the urban regeneration project.
Seoul’s People-Centric Urban Regeneration Project as a Model of Sustainable Urban Growth, Guangzhou Award for Urban Innovation: http://www.guangzhouaward.org/award_d.aspx?CateId=289&newsid=1408