In The Press

Reclaimed Port City Ready To Reap Results


Sri Lanka’s largest Public Private Partnership, the Colombo Port City project is ready to be marketed to investors worldwide as a prime investment property with the island’s Urban Development Authority recently giving approval to the project’s Development Control Regulations (DCR) in principle, the Sunday Observer learns.

The US$ 1.4 billion project comprising 269 hectares of reclaimed land from the sea is expecting to draw an overall investment of US$15 billion with the project’s full completion scheduled for year 2041. According to officials, as the first phase of the master planned area (closest to Chaitya Road) will be ready for building constructions by June this year, and lands are to be presented to investors shortly.

“The marketing of lands allocated to the government and Project Company will be a coordinated effort to ensure fair valuation so as not to flood the market with excess land. The terms and conditions relating to this have been agreed in the Tripartite Agreement between the GOSL, UDA and the Project Company,” an official from CHEC told the Sunday Observer.

Port City Colombo, South Asia’s premiere residential, retail and business destination and an extension of the existing city’s Central Business District will comprise five new districts or zones namely, the Financial District, the Marina, International Island, Central Park Living and Island living, designers of the project told a recent conference.

The ‘Living Island’ occupying the largest land extent of 95 hectares will include both high-rise living quarters and low-rise beachfront villas while the ‘International Island’ of 85 hectares at the northern end of the Port City will contain a world-class hospital, international school, resort and a theme park, upon completion.

On the other hand, the ‘Financial District’ with an extent of 40 hectares will form a combination of office space and mixed-use (office, residential, and retail) including the proposed Colombo International Financial City while the ‘Marina’ occupying 15 hectares entail between 100 and 150 yachts. The ‘Central Park’ is set to occupy 55 hectares of open green space and green living quarters.

The main investor in the Colombo Port City Project, CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd, which is a fully owned subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company Limited recently organized an event to formally present the project’s DCR to the Minister of Megapolis and Western Development, Patali Champika Ranawaka and the Urban Development Authority for appraisal.

At the event it was announced that Surbana Jurong and Atkins have been brought on board by the project company to prepare the DCR to the existing Master Plan, which was originally done by Swedish-based planning consultant, SWECO. Surbana Jurong is one of Asia’s largest urban, industrial and infrastructure consulting firms based in Singapore while Atkins is UK’s largest engineering consultancy.

“Making this DCR was a long drawn process spanning about 18 months to understand the context and come out with the guidelines. We took an extensive study to understand public needs and also engaged with different stakeholders at different levels of society in terms of requirements for a new city and then we created holistic plans,” Project Director of Surbana Jurong, Anandan Karunakaran said at the event themed ‘Roadmap to Prosperity’ held at the Kingsbury Hotel.

The DCR provides a clear mechanism for the implementation of the master plan and directs both public and private sector developments with a set of development objectives, definitions and regulations. Organised within a framework of four volumes, covering key areas namely, urban design, utility, landscape and sustainability, the DCR provides detailed land use and development regulations for all development partners of Port City, including architects, designers, builders and developers.

“All development within Port City will need to adhere to the conditions stipulated in the DCR including certain parameters related to building design and specifications. Also, the Port City Master Plan, once approved by the UDA, can only be changed by mutual consultation and agreement between the Project Company and the GOSL,” officials highlighted.

According to plans in the DCR, each district will offer a mix of uses which allow for a live, work and play environment. Parks and open spaces, waterfront promenades, public plazas and active street edges all along the central boulevard allow for recreational facilities within walking distances and promote a healthy lifestyle that would appeal to all ages and all people, who aspire to live in the heart of the city.

“Sustainable solutions to reduce net water consumption through the implementation of water conservation measures and use of low water consumption fixtures, fittings and equipment have been included, while the use of renewable energy solutions, methods to enhance environmental quality, recycling of wastewater and disposal, improved public space and sustainable transport methods etc. have been taken into account and clear solutions included,” regional director for Atkins Acuity, Asia Pacific - Marie Lam-Frendo said.

Meanwhile, Minister Champika Ranawaka who addressed the event said, the DCR was important as it indicates the signal for the project company’s marketing teams to actively present the plot of reclaimed land as viable real estate. The Minister also outlined that the DCR went well with the mission of the Megapolis as it benchmarks standards for the rest of the country.

“We need to find new ways of sustaining in urban life and that is by looking at newer models to support an ever growing population. Cities act as a magnet in channelling investment; that is what we expect from the Port City in the future. It will be a city within a city, sitting on the edge of the Indian ocean with world class standards that attract the right investor and long term partners who will benefit our nation,” Minister Ranawaka noted.

He further highlighted that urbanization was inevitable, not because it was necessary to transplant people from rural areas into big cities but because, the suburban and rural areas were getting built up fast, and merging into the urban infrastructure.

He added that according to reports 70 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050; “therefore, we have no option but to grasp this way of life, and find out what opportunities it has in store for us.”

The Minister was addressing a gathering of over 400 people made up of the Project Company’s future utility partners, representatives from allied Government agencies and prospective investors who had gathered for the unveiling of the DCR.