Hanoi is expected to ratify a project to reduce the level of population density in its Old Quarter in August to better preserve historical and cultural architectural sites in the quarter.

With a total area of 81ha, covering 10 wards of Hoan Kiem district, there were now more than 66,660 people living in the Old Quarter, at a population density of around 840 people/ha.

Poor infrastructure and haphazard building extensions have had a negative impact on the living conditions of people in the area, and also affected the preservation work of historical and cultural architectural sites in the Old Quarter.

In late 1998, Hanoi took a proactive role in the project research and aimed to reduce the population density in the Old Quarter to 500 people/ha by 2020. The plan estimated a need to relocate around 26,200 people (equivalent to 6,550 households) to more than 40ha of land in other districts of Hanoi .

Between 2012 and 2015, around 1,800 households will be relocated to the 11.12ha Viet Hung urban centre, in Long Bien district. An estimated 4.3 trillion VND will be invested in this stage. The second phase of the project will start in 2015.

Although the project received support from many residents in Hoan Kiem district, various assistance schemes were given to households whose lives and earnings were dependent on this so-called “land of gold”, including The lower interest rates on bank loans for people to buy houses.

Hanoi ’s Old Quarter took shape early in the 15 th century, with a northern boundary of Hang Dau, a southern boundary of Hang Bong, Hang Gai, Cau Go and Hang Thung, an eastern boundary of Tran Nhat Duat and Tran Quang Khai, and a western boundary of Phung Hung.

The Old Quarter consisted of people working in a range of handicraft trading industries, and small businesses, making it different from all other Old Quarters in the world. 121 cultural heritage and historical monuments, and over 1,080 ancient houses were found in Hanoi ’s Old Quarter, attracting a significant number of foreign visitors every year./.