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Sri Lanka begins shift to apartment living

ECONOMYNEXT – Population growth and rapid urbanisation has put Sri Lanka on the verge of making the transition to apartment living, urban planners say.

High-density living will have to be encouraged to curb the trend towards urban sprawl which threatens environmentally vulnerable zones like water retention areas, they told a recent forum.

How the country manages its increasing housing requirements would be critical for future growth, said Nayana Mawilmada, Director General of the Urban Development Authority.

“We have a very low slum population so the issue is less about providing new housing but more of how you change the pattern of housing,” he said.

“We now have accelerated urban sprawl growing twice as fast as the population.”

Mawilmada said the island might no longer be able to continue with traditional low-density living and instead have to shift towards high-density living.

“Ours’ is still single family detached housing,” he said. “We’re now on the cusp of the transition into apartments. So far it’s only seen in Colombo and a little bit on the fringes of the city.

A cultural transformation would be needed for people to adapt to the need for more densification.
 
”So the transition we need to make as a culture is from single family units to high density communities,” Mawilmada said. “If we do not get urbanisation under control we will continue to see growing urban sprawl.”

Ede Jorge Ijjasz-Vasquez, Senior Director, Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice of the World Bank control of urban sprawl is important especially along the coast in Colombo and in Kandy where environmentally sensitive land is threatened.  (Colombo/October 13 2015)
 

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