Decentralised Urban and Peri-Urban Land Management: Examples from Three Cambodian Cities

Historically, in Cambodia planning was – and often still is – carried out by technical staff at the national level through the preparation of Master Plans that were subsequently handed down to the local level for further implementation. As we know, top-down and technically oriented planning approaches by themselves are unable to respond adequately to rapid changes and local issues that occur in rapidly developing urban centres.
Consequently, a new way of thinking and appropriate tools should be used to support the realisation of spatial planning and its implementation at the local decision level. This includes innovative approaches for involving the local level in managing its own urban affairs and contributing to the overall development.
In Cambodia, urban and urbanization area generally is defined as an area, which has been urbanized or should be urbanized within ten years. Building and construction activities are encouraged based on land use plans. However, current Cambodian law does not define the building types or general use of the buildings permitted by the land use classification. General regulations or urban land use authorization exists only for some individual types of buildings like elevated buildings. But in fact there are still many other official and informal regulations to control urban land use in Cambodia.
Based on regional land assessment and local development plans, this paper presents conceptual as well as technical approaches to effective participatory land use planning in three Cambodian cities (Kampong Speu, Battambang and Koh Kong). Due to the lack of an efficient urban master plan process, zoning concepts are not well known yet and conceptions for a particular development axis are still very poor. In this regard the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC, Ministry of Land Management Urban Planning and Construction MLMUPC), has recognized a great need for decentralized integrated planning for economic and infrastructural development as well as conceptual framework to improve regional efforts on urban planning processes. A short-term emphasis is on introducing a more consultative approach where problems and issues as defined by the local level are gathered and considered as part of the planning process. Provincial and district staff in collaboration with advisors enhance and increase then the capacity building process in land use management and urban planning as well as regional development issues. One example (Kampong Speu) is on the demarcation of urban green space between urbanization area and urbanization control area, another one (Battambang) an example of the technical development process that led to an urban management plan and the measurement of urban growth. This project has been carried out under the umbrella of the ASIA URBS project since 2001. The objective is to improve planning and mapping capacities in decentralized provincial and district administrations via several technical GIS trainings and hand on advice. For realistic planning and implementation processes a consistent spatial information resource is essential. The last case (Koh Kong) is about development strategies for a provisional land use plan and a zoning strategy in the urbanization area.

Future outcomes of these joint technical and conceptual approaches could be current local land use maps and planning sources for urban design projects in town centres with several examples like redesign of the market places and urban area with historical value, real estate validation, location transport network stations, improvement and protection of riverbanks or buffer zoning around national road and state land management in the urban centres. In addition, the introduction of a new, highly effective aerial balloon photo technique, adapted to the conditions in developing countries is assessed, and geo-corrected pictures were already used in geo-spatial GPS and GIS data trainings as well as in the decentralized urban planning process like in Battambang.

Full Paper: Decentralized Urban and Peri-Urban Land Management.pdf1.72 MB