Developers can change commercial housing projects to social housing or reduce the size of apartments once they build infrastructure, the Ho Chi Minh City administration has said.

Nguyen Huu Tin, deputy chairman of the municipal People's Committee, said at a meeting held on September 23 that the changes are permitted to help thaw the property market, but they must dovetail with the city's zoning plans.

Under Government Resolution 2, developers will also be reimbursed the money they paid for land-use rights if they change their projects to social housing.

The city Department of Construction said any reduction in the size of apartments must still ensure they measure at least 45sq.m. District authorities said the changes should be considered on a case-by-case basis to ensure there is no mass change that would impact infrastructure.

Huynh Thanh Khiet, deputy chairman of the District 2 People's Committee, said his district has studied the issue in recent years and found that if the population increases 1.5-fold, infrastructure has to increase 1.2-1.6 times to keep pace. Before allowing a developer to make the change, authorities should consider if local infrastructure is adequate, he added.

The Department of Transport urged the committee not to allow any changes in the city's 930ha central area that has been zoned for space and landscapes.

Developers expressed concern that the city has been slow in permitting changes, which has affected them. The resolution is only effective until the end of 2014 and so their need is very urgent, the city Real Estate Association said in the developers' support. It urged the People's Committee to allow developers who meet the conditions set under the resolution to make changes to their projects soon.

Tin ordered the Department of Construction to submit to the committee a list of any additional criteria for granting permission for the change. Priority would be given to housing projects in outlying areas, he said.

The Department of Construction has recommended approval for six projects to downsize apartments. It has also submitted a list of three commercial housing projects whose developers want to make the switch to social housing.-VNA