Colombo City beautification: UDA drawing 15-year plan

  • Fort to be cleared for tourism

  • Govt. entities to be relocated

  • Peliyagoda earmarked for businesses relocation

  • Multipurpose transport hub for Fort Railway-Maradana

By Yoshitha Perera

The city of Colombo will evolve as a new urban area within the next 10 to 15 years, as most of the current businesses and government institutions will be moved out of the city to create space for the new urban plan, The Sunday Morning learnt.

State Minister of Urban Development, Coast Conservation, Waste Disposal, and Community Cleanliness Dr. Nalaka Godahewa told The Sunday Morning that there are certain government buildings in the Colombo Fort area which could be relocated as part of the masterplan.

The relocation of the said buildings has also been mentioned in the recently approved cabinet paper regarding the same.

“We identified the Colombo Fort area as a heritage city which can be developed for tourism and hospitality purposes as part of the Government’s long-term vision to convert the city to a buzzing tourism city. The Colombo Fort area has many colonial buildings and lands on which hotels can be constructed. This is, however, not an immediate thing but a concept,” Dr. Godahewa explained.

The Colombo city masterplan has three main components, which, according to Dr. Godahewa, include the said heritage city, the Colombo Port City (as the financial hub), and the area of the Colombo Fort Railway Station up to Maradana, which would be developed as a multipurpose transportation hub.

“In the recent past, the Defence Headquarters moved to the complex constructed in Akuregoda as part of the masterplan. Now, the Galle Face ground has been released for tourism development by the Government. With regard to plans on moving the current businesses and trade centres in Colombo Fort, Peliyagoda is an ideal location for logistics and it is a suitable area to move small-scale businesses and trading houses which are currently located within the Colombo Fort area.”

Meanwhile, speaking to The Sunday Morning, Urban Development Authority (UDA) Chairman Harshan De Silva said the UDA is creating the plan for the entire project, noting that prime locations in the Colombo Fort area would be put to use for better purposes in the future.

However, he noted that the UDA is yet unaware as to what would come in place of what is currently occupying these prime locations in the Colombo Fort area. Furthermore, he added that nothing has been opened up for investment yet.

Speaking to The Sunday Morning about the plan to shift the Police Headquarters to a land in Attidiya, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Security Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Jagath Alwis said the Ministry is yet to finalise certain matters, including the expenditure pertaining to the relocation process.

“We are in the process of initiating activities and the Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau (CECB) would have to tell us the cost and other related things for the relocation process, which will take some time,” he said.

When questioned about the progress of shifting the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Headquarters to the Defence Headquarters complex in Akuregoda, SLAF Spokesman Group Captain Dushan Wijesinghe said the construction work is still in progress, but that the SLAF is planning to move to the said complex by the end of the year or mid next year. While adding that there are two or three pending proposals pertaining to the matter of relocating SLAF’s fire unit, he said that the SLAF is still looking for a place to relocate the said fire unit.