Urban planning firm Palafox Associates is proposing the creation of new urban centers to resolve traffic congestion and decentralize development activities in the existing city proper.
“We propose other urban centers outside of the existing urban center which are self-sustaining,” said Genevieve Grace Ranchez, Palafox Associates’ environmental planner, during the presentation of the final draft of City Master Plan at the City Hall Tuesday.
The city government has commissioned the urban planning firm “to continuously propel Puerto Princesa’s image of being a ‘city in the forest,’ while maintaining a proper balance between catering to the human needs and conserving the environment.”
According to Ranchez, they have been tasked to develop a master plan that would give rise to “sustainable, compact communities” in which “all the needs of the community are already integrated in the plan for them to limit the need to travel to different centers for their specific needs.”
“All of people’s needs – residential and mixed use commercial areas – are provided there, so they don’t need to go to the existing city center,” she added.
Ranchez said they also put a prime on “capitalizing on the existing five rural centers based on the existing city comprehensive land use plan.”
The master plan, she said, also “focuses on developing mass public transport system.”
“Now, here at the city center, there are so many tricycles which are low occupant vehicles. What we propose is to have vehicles that can accommodate higher capacity of people,” she added.
Palafox Associates also proposed to provide access for pedestrian to encourage walking as a practice among residents and visitors.
“In all of the proposed [priority] areas, we include pedestrians in our topmost priority to limit the use of motorized vehicles,” she said.
To further ensure the smooth flow of traffic, the master plan also proposed to strictly enforce a ban on parking along the major streets.
“Preferably, the parking areas should be at the back of establishments,” Ranchez said.
Merged with the existing city government plans, Palafox Associates suggested conceptual land use plans for primary and secondary priority areas in the city.
“These are just all conceptual land use plans. Once finalized and approved, [it would be] better if we have next studies which are [way] more detailed; for example, site development plans and engineering plans needed specifically in environmentally critical areas,” Ranchez said.
For primary priority areas, the list are as follows: Environmental Estate; Acacia Tree Tunnel and Park; Government Center and Balayong Park; Baywalk and New Public Market Place; Aerotropolis; and Arts and Heritage Area.
“As mentioned during the previous public consultations, labeling it as the primary priority areas doesn’t mean that they are really the main priority; it’s just that we have a more detailed plans for the following areas,” Ranchez said.
For secondary priority areas with “less detailed” plan, the list are as follows: Napsan Community Beach and Salakot Falls; Honda Bay Wharf; Sabang Wharf; Coastal Communities; Cruise Terminal; Tagkawayan City Beach; Coliseum; New Public Cemetery; and New Township Development.
Among other highlights in the priority areas are the creation of rain gardens that would serve as water catchment areas; food and sustainability centers; marine discovery and education centers; wildlife learning centers; river parks and waterfront development; and renewable energy sites like solar farm.
“We need to improve the existing green open spaces and provide more parks to serve not only as spaces for recreation but as staging areas for evacuation in times of disasters,” the environmental planner said.
According to Engr. Jovenee Sagun, City Planning and Development Office chief, the inputs provided by the members of the technical working group during the presentation will all soon be incorporated in the master plan.
“Once we have finalized this (final version of master plan), it will be presented in the last public consultation. [For it to be adopted by the city government], it needs approval of the City Development Council and the selected stakeholders,” Sagun said.
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