UNP unveils megapolis plan for western region

Colombo core area divided into 12 planning areas; Pettah to be turned into leisure centre with harbour front district
By Anthony David

With less than three weeks to go for the local elections including the Colombo Municipality, the UNP has come out with a megapolis plan covering not only the city, but the western region. UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe told the Sunday Times that the master plan for the development of the western region included development of all sectors and the proposal would look to public – private investment partnerships to make it a reality.

The plan initially submitted to the Board of Investment (BOI) in 2004 failed to get public attention or get off the ground with the change of government.

Ranil Wickremesinghe looks over the plan at his office on Friday. Pix by Susantha Liyanawatte

“We have resurrected the plan to show the people what’s on offer for them in Colombo and the surrounding areas,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said.

The plan includes business centres in the financial district around Pettah, a recreation and entertainment district around Beira Lake, a shopping district around Slave Island and a harbour front district.

The proposal was developed by CESMA in Singapore in consultation with architects and town planners.
The proposal includes a comprehensive plan to address the problem of shanty dwellers with low-income groups to be housed in a flat complex that would not exceed more than six floors and a 15-floor flats complex for mid income families.

“We will be calling the people to give a mandate to implement this plan and we will tell the government to act on this plan which is available,” Mr Wickremesinghe said.

“Under this plan we want to make Colombo the best city in South Asia,” he said, adding that the proposed plan did not focus only on infrastructure development, but on an ‘all inclusive development plan’ spanning more than 30 years.

“The plan was modernity combined with the preservation of the historic richness of the city,” UNP MP Eran Wickramaratne explaining the plan said.

He said, under the plan, Pettah would be developed into a harbourfront district comprising a cruise centre, a marina and waterfront promenade.The master plan maps out a vision for the Western region from Negombo to Beruwala while the core area plan for Colombo maps out a detailed long term development project for a population of two million.

The Colombo core area is divided into 12 planning areas. The plan which will also focus on pedestrian traffic and parking management noted that the existing pedestrian network was not well linked and the segregation of pedestrian traffic from vehicular traffic was inadequate.

The report noted that there were abut 2,400 carpark lots available in the city of Colombo and the supply only met 15 per cent of the demand.

“What we want to tell the people is that we are not coming out with a plan drawn up suddenly, but a comprehensive development plan, not just for the city, but for the entire region,” Mr. Wickramaratne pointed out.

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