MANDALAY — The Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC) is working on a new zoning plan for the city, in an effort to preserve its cultural heritage while allowing for development and modernization.
The plan will designate eight zones—cultural conservation zones around the ancient moat and surrounding Mandalay Hill, development restriction and stimulation zones, green zones, high-rise permissible and restricted areas, and a mid-rise housing zone.
Details including zoning locations for the proposed plan have not been finalized.
“The major difficulty with finishing the plan is that we don’t have a digitized map of Mandalay. So, we are making one with the help of 15 engineers and a software program,” said Zaw Win, an official with the municipality.
The proposal will be submitted to the divisional parliament soon, according to the official, who added that new construction would have to abide by the zoning plan once it is approved.
“Once the zoning map comes out, Mandalay residents will know which zone they are living in and what types of buildings they are allowed to build,” he said.
Students of Mandalay Technological University have teamed up with the staff of MCDC to conduct a survey on population, vehicle use, water supply, municipal garbage disposal systems and building use, to acquire relevant social and economic data to be included in the digitized map.
Architect and managing director of Mandalay-based C.A.D. Construction Co. Zin Min Swe said city authorities should follow the lead of other big cities and consider which aspects of urban planning would best suit Mandalay, Burma’s second largest city.
“High-rise restricted areas, mixed development zones, residential zones and cultural zones should be established without impacting the growth of the town,” he said.
Although there is not a designated historical zone in Mandalay, the Religious Affairs and Culture Ministry divides the cultural heritage zones into three different designations—Ancient Site Zone (AZ), Ancient Monumental Zone (MZ) and Protected and Preserved Zone (PZ), with only PZ areas allowing commercial buildings following ministry approval.
The Department of Archaeology at Mandalay’s National Museum and Library has also taken steps to preserve some areas.
“For example, only certain types of buildings are permitted within 120 yards of the city wall and the moat,” said Nyo Myint Tun, director of the department.
“We impose restrictions on three areas: height, color and design,” he added.
Zaw Win confirmed that although the zoning plan is still being drafted, measures are currently being taken to preserve religious buildings and heritage sites.
Mandalay was the last royal capital of the Konbaung Dynasty, before the British annexed Burma in 1885. Among Mandalay Division’s cultural zones are the old city sites of Bagan, Pinle, Myinsaing, Pinya and more.
According to the National Museum and Library, there are 218 ancient buildings in and around Mandalay, with 63 of them within Mandalay’s municipal area.