Building restrictions on large-scale hotels could begin next year in Kutchan

It is understood that the town of Kutchan in the Niseko region of central Hokkaido is considering tightening regulations to restrict the use of buildings in the Hirafu district, where there are many resort facilities. In the next fiscal year, as well as restricting construction of large-scale hotels in districts where there is lots of undeveloped land, the town is also considering establishing regions in which the development of accommodation facilities is banned. The aim is to prevent environmental deterioration in the region, amid a series of large-scale developments funded by overseas capital. It is possible that this could be the turning point of the Niseko region, in which, until now, resort development has continued to spread.

 Currently, in Hirafu and other districts in which there are many resort facilities, when buildings are constructed, ‘quasi-city planning areas’ are designated, in which building-to-land ratios and floor area ratios are regulated. The town plans to establish new ‘conservation areas’ on undeveloped land in these districts to limit the spread of development. Specific measures being considered include an upper limit on floor space in accommodation facilities that can be constructed, and a ban on the construction of large-scale hotels and shops. Large-scale hotels are to be concentrated in an area around the ski slopes, which will lead to the conservation of landscapes around Mt. Yotei.

 In places outside the conservation areas, too, the plan is to tighten part of the regulations concerning building-to-land ratios, floor area ratios and the like. As land in forest areas outside the resort district continue to be purchased by overseas capital, the intention is to establish areas in which the construction of accommodation facilities is banned. Specific proposals are to be put together within the year but opposition from developers is expected.

 Due to the speed of resort development in the town, shortages of tap water and depletion of hot-spring resources is becoming an issue, as is crowded ski slopes and lack of parking facilities.

 Speaking about the considerations, Mayor Monji Kazushi said “Many of the townspeople are a little uneasy about the expansion of development and sense an impending crisis. In order to create a high-quality, sustainable resort, the implementation of rules is necessary.”