Tough new restrictions governing condominium development are on the way in Hirafu and Hanazono, and soon could follow in Higashiyama and Annupuri as well.
The local Kutchan government has announced plans to introduce the new restrictions, which will fundamentally alter the height and scale of condominium developments from as early as next Spring, according to the Hokkaido Shimbun, the major local daily newspaper.
According to the Hokkaido Shimbun, the Kutchan authorities say they have decided to enact the new legislation out of frustration resulting from developers failing to abide by current guidelines,which are not legally enforceable, and because of increasing problems arising from snow clearing disputes on small building sites.
While full details are yet to be revealed, the newspaper indicates that while there could be a slight increase in the size of building footprints, overall floor area will be significantly reduced, and height limits will be set so that new buildings blend in with the surrounding forest vegetation, which suggests a ‘treetop height’ policy.
If introduced as planned, the new regulations would impact seriously on a large number of large-scale new projects currently in the planning stage, and developers are expressing concern that the changes are being rushed in by authorities with insufficient consultation.
They are warning that continued growth in the area, particularly in the Hirafu and Hanazono areas, could stall, with serious economic consequences for the whole Kutchan region.
Developers say they were invited to attend meetings in mid-December and presented with the outline of the new proposals ‘fait accompli’.
Signs that the new policy could spread to other parts of the Niseko ski area during 2008 emerged in a further report in the Hokkaido Shimbun on 22 December.
It quoted the mayor of Niseko, which administers the remaining ski resort areas of Higashiyama, Annupuri and Moiwa, who said that Niseko also placed a high value on preserving the local environment and was closely studying the Kutchan plans.