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Chui says axing of setback rule won’t mean higher buildings

Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On said Tuesday that his next-term government would study the possible cancellation of the city’s so-called setback regulation, insisting that even if the rule is axed it does not mean that buildings can be built higher than now. A setback is the distance which a building or other structure is […]

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:48 am

Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On said Tuesday that his next-term government would study the possible cancellation of the city’s so-called setback regulation, insisting that even if the rule is axed it does not mean that buildings can be built higher than now.

A setback is the distance which a building or other structure is set back from a street or any other place, such as to ensure that the area’s daylight is not impacted by the building.

According to a 1980 by-law, setback in Macau is defined in relation to the shadow cast by a building on the street, thereby implicitly determining the legal height limit of the building.

Chui made the remarks to reporters at the Macau World Trade Centre in Nape before meeting members of the Chief Executive Election Committee from the education, social services and sport sectors.

Chui, the sole candidate of Sunday’s chief executive election, is continuing with his re-election campaign activities.

Asked by reporters about his previous comments about the possible cancellation of the setback regulation, Chui pledged that the public will be consulted on the matter.

Following Chui’s comments on Monday, residents said they were concerned that the revocation of the rule could result in extremely high buildings being constructed closely together, which would worsen air circulation and affect natural light.

“I simply mentioned yesterday [Monday] that I support the cancellation of the setback regulation but this needs public support …it does not mean [that the city’s] buildings can be built higher or can be built beyond the legal floor area ratio,” Chui said.

Chui pointed out that the regulation has been in place for a long time – 33 years – and that it has its limits so it had not been adopted for quite a while, adding that it had only be applied again after the arrest of the government’s then secretary for transport and public works Ao Man Long in 2006 for corruption.

The by-law is a part of the General Regulation on Urban Construction which took effect in 1985 and, among other things, regulates the height of buildings.

While introducing his political campaign platform to the members of the Chief Executive Election Committee from the city’s commercial and industrial sectors on Monday, Chui said that he supported the cancellation of the by-law – enacted as a decree-law at that time – when responding to members from the construction sector who called for the cancellation of the rule which they said restricted the height of any construction in Macau.

“As the Urban Planning Law, Heritage Protection Law and Land Law were implemented in March… I believe the city’s [future] urban plan will ensure and provide locals with a good living environment,” Chui said, adding that any construction must be in line with the limits laid out in the three laws.

He also said that he hoped the amendments to the General Regulation on Urban Construction, which is currently going through public consultation sessions, will be completed by his second-term government.

Chui’s second five-year term will begin on December 20. His re-election on Sunday is seen as a fait accompli. A total of 201 votes of the 400-member Chief Executive Election Committee will be enough to be re-elected.

During the 1-1/2 hour meeting with members from the education, social services and sport sectors, Chui promised that the government will give more support to them.

His re-election campaign ends on Friday.(macaunews/macaupost)

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:48 am

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