Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has signed a directive to increase the number of social housing projects in Hanoi, while ending construction of commercial housing projects in the city centre.

Under his Decision 996/QD-TTg, signed last week as part of a programme on housing development in Hanoi for 2012-2020 and towards 2030, priorities will be given to construction of urban areas and residential areas in the city's outskirts. Old and downgraded residential buildings and houses will be renovated and rebuilt to ensure residents' safety and protect the city's appearance.

Accordingly, the city will invest and build about 1.8 million sq.m of floor space by 2015, which is equivalent to 20,000 apartments, to meet the housing demand of retired civil servants, contributors to the country's revolutions and development, as well as low-income residents. Another 2 million sq.m of floor space will be built for workers and students to rent. The number of apartments for these groups is expected to rise to 32,000 by 2020.

However, the Prime Minister's decision also puts a temporary end to new commercial housing projects in the city's four downtown districts of Dong Da, Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh, Hai Ba Trung and part of the southern Tay Ho District.

It further sets a target that, by 2015, the average housing area in the city will be 23.1 sq.m per person, with a minimum area for one of 6.5 sq.m.

The investment for the construction of social housing projects in this period will come from city and State budgets at an estimated cost of more than 6.7 trillion VND (321 million USD).

It also requires an increase in the coverage of concrete houses to 89.7 percent, along with a decrease of cranky houses to just 0.05 percent.

The targets for 2020 will be an average housing area for one to be increased to 26.3 sq.m. Concrete houses must make up 91.2 percent of the total and there will be no cranky houses in the city by 2020.

The investment for housing projects during this period is expected to reach 6.9 trillion VND (331 million USD) and will come from the city's budget.

By 2030, the number of concrete houses in the city is set to reach 93.2 percent. The investment, coming from the city's budget, is estimated at 9.5 trillion VND (452 million USD).

The Prime Minister asked Hanoi authorities to review and check on the progress of all housing projects in the city. Those projects which have taken longer than expected for construction, will have their licenses revoked, said officials.-VNA