Transit-oriented development up in the air amid challenges

Transit-oriented development up in the air amid challenges

Transit-oriented development (TOD) is facing challenges in terms of implementation due to the limitations of existing regulations and a lack of integration among government agencies, according to property developers.

Pornarit Chounchaisit, president of the Thai Real Estate Association, said one of the most significant obstacles that has contributed to the difficulties facing TOD projects was the land expropriation act.

"TOD often involves land expropriation, but when the law specifies that expropriated land must be utilised solely for public purposes, it becomes challenging to carry out TOD with maximum efficiency," Mr Pornarit said.

Kittipol Pramoj Na Ayudhya, executive director of SET-listed developer Sammakorn, said there had not been any integrations, not only physically but also among the government agencies involved in promoting TOD.

"Many regulations need amendments to promote TOD," he said. "For example, a regulation requiring projects developed around public transportation systems to include parking lots should be revised."

Instead of stipulating a minimum requirement, it should cap the number of parking spaces, he said. Such a change would encourage users of such buildings to utilise public transport.

Roengsak Thongsom, director of the Bureau of Transport and Traffic System Development, said a new act related to TOD has already been drafted and was awaiting submission to the new cabinet.

"The objective of this act is to serve as an effective instrument for advancing TOD, which is practical and responsive to the Thai context. It seeks to rectify constraints within current government agencies and organisations and various existing laws," he said.

Those laws include expropriation, building control, land consolidation and specific city planning.

"Thailand's urban development tools are distributed across different laws and agencies, resulting in slow progress, a lack of coordination and an inability to address potential urban sprawl from future rail transport system development," Mr Roengsak said.

"There are several mixed-use projects in Bangkok but none of them are TOD," he said. "They are all transit-adjacent developments as they have fences."

According to the Real Estate Information Center (REIC), there were a total of 126 mixed-use projects in Greater Bangkok with a total gross floor area (GFA) of around 15.3 million square metres.

Of these, the construction of 110 projects has been completed with a GFA of around 11.4 million sq m. The other 16 projects, with a GFA of 3.85 million sq m, were either under construction or had not yet been built. They were expected to be completed between the second half of 2023 and 2027.

REIC surveyed mixed-use projects in Greater Bangkok with a GFA of above 10,000 sq m and at least two property categories in the first half of 2023 for the first time.

Of the 126 mixed-use projects, 56% was developed by listed property developers and 44% by non-listed firms. Of the total area, office space accounted for 39.5%, retail space accounted for 30.8%, condominiums accounted for 22.4%, hotels accounted for 6%, and serviced apartments accounted for 1.3%.

As of the first half of 2023, the average occupancy rate of office space totalling around 4.62 million sq m was 76%. More than 1.51 million sq m of new office space would be completed between the second half of 2023 and 2027.

In terms of retail space, covering around 3.62 million sq m, the average occupancy rate stood at 85%. In terms of new supply, more than 1.11 million sq m of retail space is expected to be completed in the future.

The quantity of condo supply in mixed-use projects stood at 27,534 units, of which 87% or 23,946 units had been sold. A total of 7,099 units would be completed within the next four years.

The number of hotel rooms within mixed-use projects stood at 14,232 in total, with an additional 4,341 rooms in the pipeline. The average occupancy rate for existing rooms stood at 70-80%, with those located in riverside areas commanding the highest room rate of 15,500 baht per night.

At the same time, the average occupancy rate of serviced apartments in mixed-use projects, which tallied 774 rooms at three sites, has been over 70% since the middle of last year.

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