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August 2, 2011

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Illegal building rampant, city officials say

ILLEGAL construction is rampant in Shanghai, and there are at least 60,000 residential building units that are illegally constructed or expanded, local government officials said yesterday.

Further, the local government lacks both the manpower and legislative support to take action, they said, adding that they plan to set up a standing team including professional architectural experts to help step up supervision and crackdowns on such buildings.

Officials said they had seen a rising trend of illegal expansion by property owners in local villa complexes in recent years and that they constitute about 10 percent of the suspected illegal construction.

Most of these unauthorized buildings were difficult to distinguish because they usually resembled the style of the original buildings or were perfectly connected to them, said officials with the city's illegal-building dismantling office.

"We recently discovered that a home-owner in Tomson Golf Villa pulled down the original house completely and built up a new one," said an official with the office.

At least 85 percent of the buildings inside the complex were illegally expanded or rebuilt, officials said.

The practice often violates original architectural designs, posing safety risks. And it creates disputes such as the structures blocking walkways or sunlight for other households.

Officials said the lack of enforcement against such unauthorized construction spurs copycats among the neighbors.

They said they want to hire more professionals to step up supervision and want tougher punishments and new regulations.


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