On May 31, the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) released a manual that largely revises the establishment and management standards of the District Unit Plan (DUP). As the first revision of the guidance since the DUP was legally institutionalised 20 years ago in 2000, the move was made to better reflect the paradigm shift in urban management from development to revitalization, and to foster plans that more closely align with the district’s future prospects.
DUP has been used not only as a means of supporting a zoning system that has assigned specific roles to each district to uphold land efficiency, but also as universal guidelines for spatial management to various maintenance businesses. Currently, all 466 of DUP-designated areas in Seoul (of a total area of 98㎢) must follow the related protocols established by Seoul Metropolitan Government’s DUP. While the DUP was first adopted to run an urban management system that could be customised by region, it has however been criticised for its stressing standardisation in terms of regulations and for not accommodating more flexible plans that might attend to each region’s unique conditions. Therefore, SMG have created an establishment standard for DUP that is inclusive of the Unitary Development Plan, Disaster Prevention and Regional Assets Protection and Utility Plan, Regional Support Facility, Public Interior Space, Floor Area Ratio of Semi-Residential and Commercial Regions, and the Building-to-Land Ratio.
Moreover, a combination of future projections for district scenery and development will now have to be proposed through all future establishments of DUP in order to foster a higher connectivity between DUPs and the unified direction of regional development. In addition to the maintenance of unity in regional developments, a new legal article to preserve a district’s original appearance was also newly instituted. Methods to draw more effectively on cultural and historical assets must be proposed, a plan for external finishing to ensure disaster protection must be installed, while a fire protection system for areas that are densely-populated by wooden buildings and hanok must also be improved. Furthermore, a Regional Support Facility will be installed for the first time in the country, as well as a Public Interior Space and Regional Management for the long-term management of the facility. The Regional Support Facility refers to the privately owned building reserved for public use, which aligns with the recent urban policy of SMG that seeks to reduce living social overhead capital and increase regional revitalisation. Public Interior Space will be allowed to increase the local inhabitant’s spatial use by creating leisure and multi-purpose spaces within building interiors, and the locals will be able to make suggestions about the management of the programmes there. The original floor area ratio of semi-residential regions will also be increased from 250 - 300% to 300%, while the original floor area ratio of most commercial regions will be raised from 300 - 600% to 500 - 600%.
SMG revealed its plans to ‘reinforce its commitment to urban revitalisation projects through a revised manual for the establishment standards of DUP’ and to reduce architectural regulations such as the easing of a building-to-land ratio to adopt monetary contribution and lower-level street revitalisation. The revised establishment standards for SMG’s DUP can be found on the Seoul City Urban Planning Portal (urban.seoul.go.kr).