To build or not to build          

To build or not to build

In a common area belonging to several blocks of flats there are several disused garages. Although these garages were abandoned years ago, the municipal authorities have no funds to demolish them. The tenants of the city-centre housing estate would benefit greatly from the creation of a green space. Ideas for improving the area include the construction of a playground, as currently there is nowhere for children to play. Demolishing the garages would create the necessary space for this.

Near the housing estate is a technical college with a growing body of students who cannot all be housed in the existing student hostel. The college principal has suggested to the municipality that the college should pull down the garages and the municipality should build a new hostel on the site, complete with a swimming pool.

Discuss the conflicts and the possible solutions, as well as the opinions of the various parties. Present your own point of view. How do you think the problem can be solved?


Conflicting interests
  • Residents do not want to see a student hostel built in their backyard, but they do want the municipal authorities to demolish the garages and improve the area surrounding their blocks of flats.
  • The municipal authorities have no funds to pull down the garages and build a children’s playground for the residents.
  • The college’s existing hostel is not big enough to accommodate all its students, while the disused garages are adjacent to the college building.

Possible solutions
  • The municipality should find the necessary funds to demolish the garages and improve the area.
  • Tenants should make a financial contribution to improving the area.
  • Another suitable location should be found for the student hostel.
  • A hostel with a swimming pool should be built, and residents of the area should be allowed to use the pool.
  • The college should be refused permission to build a hostel, but they should be allowed to build a swimming pool and obliged to improve the appearance of the area.
  • No action should be taken until the authorities find the money to pull down the garages.
  • An investor should be found who is willing to demolish the garages and improve the area in exchange for a permit to construct a cafe.

Varying viewpoints

Local authorities
According to the local authorities, if the college is able to use its own funds to demolish the garages, it can also finance the construction of a hostel and swimming pool.

In addition to their taxes, residents pay an annual sum towards building repairs, thus they believe that the municipal authorities should be obliged to demolish the garages and improve the area. The flats are located in the city centre, where living conditions are far from optimal.

Students prefer living in hostels because it is so expensive to rent other accommodation. They are aware that the college administration is able to obtain funding for the construction of an additional hostel.