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S. Korea to add 132,000 more houses in Seoul-Gyeonggi to solve supply-demand gap

Government mobilizes all available housing sites, eases floor rules, but refuses to open up greenbelts

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki (right) and Land Minister Kim Hyun-mee speak Tuesday in a press briefing on housing supply plans. (Yonhap)
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki (right) and Land Minister Kim Hyun-mee speak Tuesday in a press briefing on housing supply plans. (Yonhap)

South Korea will add 132,000 residential units in Seoul and its surrounding metropolitan area, in continued efforts to improve the demand-supply imbalance and to curb housing prices, according to the nation’s fiscal chief on Tuesday.

It also promised to ease some of the disputed construction regulations, allowing timeworn apartments to be redeveloped into skyscrapers under certain conditions, but refused to remove the development ban on most greenbelt areas, citing preservation needs.

“The government has reviewed all possible scenarios from scratch in order to secure a maximum volume of housing supplies,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki in a press briefing held at the Seoul Government Complex.

The core of the plan is to make maximum use of undeveloped housing sites that have been left neglected due to the relocation of conventional organizations and to expand the legitimate floor space of forthcoming construction plans, under certain conditions.

“We have made the best efforts not only to expand the overall supply volume, but also to allocate houses to (market underdogs such as) first-time buyers and young people,” Hong said.

In this action, authorities decided to add 132,000 units to the previously announced 130,000 units, seeking to add some 262,000 new houses in the densely populated Seoul-Gyeonggi Province area by 2028.

Of the total, some 33,000 housing units will be built on new housing sites, mostly those previously operated by state-run institutions.

Addressing speculation that several greenbelt zones may be deregulated and turned into new housing sites, the fiscal chief underlined that only the military-run Taeneung Country Club in northeastern Seoul is subject to such considerations.

“In principle, greenbelt zones should be preserved for the future generation,” he said.

Also, to maximize the use of the already existing housing sites, authorities will alleviate construction rules for outdated apartments subject to redevelopment.

Under a two-thirds consent of residents, a building may be rebuilt to expand its floor area to up to 500 percent and the number of floors to 50. The conventional floor limit in reconstruction was 35.

The required conditions are that the project involves public housing institutes such as the Korea Land & Housing Corp. and Seoul Housing & Communities Corp. Also, 50-70 percent of the expanded floor space is to be donated to the government for public use.

The latest announcement came as a follow-up action to President Moon Jae-in’s special instruction last month to drastically increase housing supplies in the Seoul-Gyeonggi Province region.

At the same time, the government reiterated vows to eradicate speculative investment in the housing market, adding to its previous regulatory actions, including tax hikes and loan regulations.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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