Chuo-ku to remove floor area ratio allowances to curb population growth

Tokyo’s Chuo ward is planning to abolish the floor area ratio (FAR) allowances in an attempt to curb the district’s rapid population growth. Up until now, a FAR allowance of as much as 20 ~ 40% could be given to residential developments in certain zones. For example, if a developer chose to build a new apartment building in Tsukiji or Kyobashi, the normal FAR for the land might be increased from its current limit of 500% to 700%, allowing a much larger building. 

The allowance was introduced in 1993 to encourage the development of apartments and increase the ward’s resident population.

Last year, the ward’s population exceeded 150,000 residents for the first time in over 55 years. The population peaked at 170,000 in the 1950s before entering into a long decline that saw the population drop to 70,000 by the 1990s. This was a common theme in central Tokyo during that time as residents moved out of the expensive city-center and into suburban bed towns. The trend has now reversed and more and more people are clamoring to live as close to central Tokyo as possible. The surge in population in Chuo ward has put a strain on schools and transport.

Approximately 80% of the district will be affected, including Tsukiji and Tsukishima. A decision is expected to be made during a town planning inquiry to be held this summer.

The removal of the allowance is expected to have a big impact on small-to-medium sized apartment projects. Their profitability will be severely limited, resulting in fewer developers choosing to build smaller buildings of less than 100 units. Hotels and commercial facilities, however, are expected to see further allowances to encourage additional development.

Sources:
The Asahi Shimbun, March 6, 2018.
The Nikkei Shimbun, March 5, 2018.

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