Yangyel Lhaden 

The much-touted redevelopment of Norzin Lam in the core of Thimphu city has been deferred to align it with the revised Thimphu Structural Plan (TSP) 2002-2027 and will be implemented simultaneously with the revision.

Other activities such as the construction of a fuel depot between Langjopakha and Taba, and archery ranges within Thimphu thromde, have also been deferred.

Norzin Lam, the main street in the capital city has been slated for redevelopment

Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS) Director of Human Settlement Tashi Penjor said that to ensure the planning process does not obstruct implementation of developmental activities, major developmental activities will be prioritised and revised at the forefront during the review of the TSP for implementation. “The entire point of the review would be defeated if developmental activities and review take place together.”

He said that elsewhere during the review of plans, a moratorium was issued to an extent that developmental activities stopped and authorities started the review from ground zero. “We’re not issuing a moratorium, as we cannot wait for the completion of the review of the TSP for developmental activities to carry on.”

The Thimphu Structural Plan was developed in 2002 as a long-term plan guiding principle for the capital city’s planned development. The review is expected to finish by 2030.

Reviewing the TSP for the first time began last year, 16 years after its implementation in 2004. The revised TSP will project a development plan until 2050 which will be reviewed once every five or 10 years.

Tashi Penjor said that periodic review every five or 10 years is recommended for structural plans like the TSP, as urbanisation is dynamic. However, the protocol to review came into effect only with the Spatial Planning Standards in 2017.

The development of the TSP was outsourced to international experts because there were no qualified Bhutanese at the time. The plan laid a vision of Thimphu and informed the thromde how they should plan. “During the review, limitations were also found which could have been reviewed a few years ago and updated with relevant proposals,” Tashi Penjor said.


TSP review

During the review, it was found that the overarching plan lacked details.

Tashi Penjor said that a detailed implementation plan could have helped achieve the vision of the TSP. “We’ll start TSP from scratch by identifying the challenges and lessons that were learnt while implementing the TSP 2002-2027.”

To implement strategic plans for the revised TSP and to achieve the vision of the TSP, it will be backed up with details by master plans. For instance, if the TSP recommends the development of a road between Babesa and Dechecholing, a Road Master Plan will be developed with specific details such as type of materials to be used, the distance between footpaths and roads, and designs.

Tashi Penjor said that in today’s context, the major challenge to implement plans is that public interest is greater than the primary interests that lead to deviation from planned activities. “We aim to listen to the public interest and use them to align ourselves to achieve the vision of the TSP by coming together for the larger interest.”

Stock taking of the TSP 2002-2027, assimilation of data, technical studies for groundwater, hydrology, and meteorology, forest cover, and a seismological study have been completed so far.

Tashi Penjor said that the team is gathering experts to prepare the revised TSP, which will take about one and a half years. “Developing the TSP requires various stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, such as economists, transport experts, and urban planners.”

Edited by Tshering Palden