More high-rise buildings, protection of parks and other green areas, a new airport, and the reduction of private vehicular traffic in the historic district are key objectives of Cuenca’s 2030 land use management plan. This was the consensus of urban planners, municipal council members and other officials who met last week to develop new guidelines and regulations.
“The city continues to grow and we must define the rules necessary to manage the growth over the next 12 years,” says Councilman Carlos Orellana. He added that the city’s metropolitan population will grow from its current 650,000 to more than 700,000 by 2030.
A major challenge for city officials, according to Orellana and Pablo Abad, director of city planning, is directing the location of new housing. “We are constrained by geography and by the expense of extending utilities to new development,” Abad said. “If growth moves up the mountains there are environmental consequences as well as logistical problems of providing water, sewer and electric services.”
Among housing solutions being discussed, Abad says, is to allow more multi-story buildings outside the historic district and to encourage “in-fill” of vacant lots within the city. Preliminary proposals include allowing buildings of up to 15 stories and putting building restrictions on vacant property on rural hillsides, he says. Abad says there are almost 10,000 buildable in the city.
Among other proposals considered by planners are to limit traffic in the historic district and to relocate the city’s main bus terminal and airport. “These are expensive propositions but the planning must begin soon,” says Orellana. He added that a major component of the 2030 will be to reduce traffic not only in El Centro, but in other areas as well. “The city’s transportation plan is to continue to improve mass transit services, including constructing parking areas on the periphery of the city and providing better infrastructure for bicycle traffic. The tram and the introduction of electric buses are a major part in the plan.”
Among topics discussed was future expansion of tram lines to high-traffic areas of the city.
A special plan is being developed to protect land in rural parishes while managing growth in parishes close to the city, such as Baños, Ricaurte, El Valle and San Joaquín.