The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure & Transport of South Korea released a plan on February 16 to allow the development of spaces over and under roads. The purpose of the plan is to give more space to pedestrians by causing all vehicles to drive underground as in the case of La Défense in France.
Previously, the development of such spaces was rather limited and private-sector companies could not participate in it. The ministry, however, is going to revise the Road Act so that multi-level roads can be built. The enactment procedure to this end is scheduled to be completed within this year so that the new act can become effective in 2018.
According to the current law, at least 20% of the area of every newly built building is required to be used as a road, and thus builders in the private sector have few choices but to build rectangular structures in sections partitioned by roads. The revision of the law, however, is expected to result in the development of land under roads by private builders and utilization of spaces over roads. Then, building design not limited by road sections is allowed along with inter-building connection. This can have a significant economic value.
Specifically, a simple calculation shows that the use of only 1% of road spaces in Seoul to that end leads to the utilization of land with a published price of approximately 3.5 trillion won (US$2.97 billion). The profits resulting from the development and use of such spaces are to belong to the government and then be invested for urban regeneration, urban and traffic infrastructure improvement, public housing supply, etc.