The Hanoi People's Committee has approved a plan to build an underground parking lot of nearly 17,000sq.m in Thong Nhat Park.

Committee's Vice Chairman, Nguyen Quoc Hung, signed a document on May 5 approving a plan for the three-storey structure in Hanoi's Le Duan Street.

The city has asked the Department of Planning and Architecture to guide Hanoi Parking One Member Co. Ltd. to design the project and display it for public comment.

Spokesman for the committee, Nguyen Thinh Thanh, said that the land at 295 Le Duan Street had been unused since 1997.

Last November, a private company known as Hanoi Parking One Member Co. Ltd, asked the city authority for permission to use the land for a parking lot.

It proposed building with accommodation for 390 cars.

It proposed to plant grass and trees on the roof of the underground building, use another 2,230 square metres for driveways.

In 2014, the project met severe opposition from the public, who said it was eating into the city's green space.

However, Thanh said the city authority decided to let the project go ahead after considering the opinions of experts, government agencies, and residents.

He claimed the project would benefit residents and meet their demands.

Previously, the park land in question was earmarked for a five-star hotel, the Hanoi Royal. However, strong public opposition led to the abandonment of the project.

In an interview with Giao duc Vietnam (Vietnam Education) newspaper, Chairman of Hanoi Transportation Association Bui Danh Lien said that the car park would bring nothing but serious traffic congestion to the community.

Lien said the one-way route from Le Duan to Tran Nhan Tong Street was already busy carrying vehicles from four districts of Ba Dinh, Hoan Kiem, Dong Da and Hai Ba Trung.

He said a part of the road from a T-junction to the car park narrowed from 14 to nine metres, creating peak-hour traffic jams. Bus passengers also had to queue on the road and pedestrians had to walk on it because there were no pavements.

He said the car park, with an extra 390 cars going in and out, would worsen traffic.

He also raised questions about the parking fees, which had not been stipulated. He said the city had paid compensation to investors in the the five-star hotel when the project was blocked. He said that if the car park opened, the city must reclaim this sum.

Lien suggested that the car park be moved to Tran Nhan Tong-Nguyen Dinh Chieu corner, or use the area around the park along Tran Nhan Tong Street.-VNA