Habitat transformation as an ultimate observable outcome of planning intervention in Thailand’s Bangkok Ladkrabang District suburb
Faculty of Industrial Education
King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang
Thipayasothorn, P. (2014). Habitat transformation as an ultimate observable outcome of planning intervention in Thailand’s Bangkok Ladkrabang District suburb. Asian International Journal of Social Sciences, 14(3), 12 – 26. Retrieved from http://aijss.org/index.php/aijss20140302a/
In the case of predominately agricultural areas, urbanization that takes place in city outskirt
leads to the conversion of agricultural land and the formation of new urban settlements. This
may have adverse impacts on agricultural ecosystems. The study reveals the outcomes of
three decades of planning and development interventions in an outer district of Bangkok in
terms of habitat transformation. It shows that planning and development interventions
transform this unitary habitat to a multi-habitat site while creating symbiotic relationships
between agricultural and non-agricultural functions. The paper sees the transformation from
a societal viewpoint rather than as a physical use of the land. In this context, the term “multihabitat
site,” for example, is associated with mixed land use. The paper recognizes that the change in focus
of successive planning and development interventions is the main factor
responsible for this transformation. Although this is an unanticipated outcome of the
planning interventions, researcher argue that a progressive change in focus may be an
effective strategy to building more pluralistic societies. Moreover, this paper asserts that
such planning interventions can counteract the current trend toward homogeneity as
encouraged by real estate developers. Such efforts can lead to segregation of an urban
society according to a new set of social classes based on socio-economic distinctions.
Keywords: peri-urban areas, transformation, unitary habitat, multi-habitat site, plural society
Cities in developing countries usually grow in a radial pattern by converting vast areas of
fringe land from rural agricultural uses to urban, non-agricultural uses. Processes responsive
for urban sprawling that happens due to a variety of reasons such as, improvement of
transportation technology and infrastructure (Barcus, 2004), and the outward shift of
industries (Pacione, 1990) is responsible for this process. When cities grow without being
guided by clearly designed urban plans and regulatory planning techniques such as land-use
zoning, haphazard developments often take place in the outer areas of cities (Daniel and
Bowers, 1997; Mariola, 2005). Usually haphazard and mixed developments are seen as
undesirable from the conventional urban planning perspective. However, there is a tendency
to accept mixed land-uses in many cities as a means of reducing travel distance and therefore
reducing transport-based pollution (Permana et al., 2008; Litman, 2008). Mixed land-use
scenarios also seem acceptable from the perspective of integrating different economic
functions and social activities in cities. Outer city areas that are often subjected to less
stringent land-use regulations may allow mixed land-uses to proliferate.
While outer city areas in developing countries are not ready for guided urban development
due to lack of necessary infrastructure, they offer opportunities for new enterprises to begin
operating in the city with relatively low capital expenditure (Dillman, 1979; Pacione, 1990).
They also offer opportunities for growing families and migrants to find footholds in the city
at affordable rates (Rossi, 1955). In fast growing cities, there are more employment
opportunities in outer city areas due to de-congestion policies implemented by the authorities
(Duany et al., 2000). This is especially true in the case of cities that enforce regulations to
relocate industries from inner city areas to outer city areas (Pacione, 1990). Although outer
city areas may lack the necessary infrastructure facilities and amenities to support an urban
lifestyle, they continue to attract new settlers and investments. This process results in
heterogeneous urban societies which this paper terms as multi-habitats1. The paper
distinguishes multi-habitats from mixed land-use zones because of their underlying social and
physical attributes. While a multi-habitat is seen from a societal viewpoint, mixed land use is
more often viewed only as a functional context. Given this argument, the paper asserts that
multi-habitats are different from mixed land use zones that may also contain various urban
Urban communities commonly include people from various social strata who engage in
different activities. The new trends of housing developments such as gated communities
mushrooming in outer city areas show that emerging urban communities can become socially
homogeneous – a scenario that the paper terms as unitary habitats2. Planning interventions
can also alter this societal state to create multi-habitats intentionally as in the case of
Malaysia. In this case, real estate housing developers were required to build a mixture of
housing units for different income groups and allocate them for all ethnic groups and religion
groups (Ezeanya, 2004). This planning intervention intended to avoid exclusive habitats
which are dominated by a particular social group, bring positive as well as negative results
for the community. This paper analyzes the habitat transformation process in a newly
emerging sub-center in the outer area of Bangkok city which has seen a change of direction
of the development following successive planning interventions. The paper reviews the
planning strategies that have contributed to the process of transformation of this sub-center
from a unitary habitat to a multi-habitat. Can industrial, educational, commercial and service
activities be compatible with agricultural activities? By looking at the current trend of
urbanization in most cities in developing countries, we note that such developments are
inevitable, at least during the initial process of transformation. A heterogeneous or multihabitat
society will always develop along the implementation path of the development plans,
particularly when the focus of the successive plans is periodically shifted from one to
another. In a same line, an organically grown multi-habitat society will grow when we fail to
implement appropriate plans at the right time. Development plans, as demonstrated by
Ladkrabang’s case, could not have anticipated the dynamic needs of this area.
Unitary habits and multi-habitats
The term “habitat” in the context of urban planning refers to the environment in which people
live and work. Ettinger (1976) asserts that a habitat is an environment where people settle. In
the past, human habitats easily blended with natural physical environments, due to the fact
that most people engaged in cultivating land for crops or worked to extract natural resources
for production purposes. Since most of the inhabitants in such settlements lived in similar
conditions and engaged in similar activities, such places can be termed as homogeneous
habitats. In contrast, multi-habitats are socially, culturally and functionally mixed areas that
are usually located between the central business area and the periphery of a city (Fujii, 2004).
This implies that multi-habitats are living environments that do not conform to the
characteristics of a specific land-use zone, in which some homogeneity of function as well as
social structure can be found. Fujii (2004) argues that multi-habitats can be places where
people of different ethnic, cultural and economic backgrounds live and work in harmony.
Though difficult to accomplish in many instances, this perspective suggests that planned
multi-habitats can provide opportunities to form pluralistic3, integrated societies, and
harmonious urbanization (UN Habitat, 2009).
Although multi-habitats portray high population densities, Williams et al. (1996) argue that
high population density and close proximity to urban living can lead to conflict among
residents, especially given differences in socio-economic backgrounds and lifestyles.
Residents of high-density areas with mixed populations are more susceptible to conflicts and
segregation based on socio-economic, cultural, racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, and
even geographical origins. Leisch (2002) observes that social polarization and segregation
often emerges because economic growth creates income gaps that lead to poverty,
discrimination, and inequality in these communities. However, Ardani (2006) points out that
if adequate development control measures are enforced, endogenously grown multi-habitats
can be properly managed and sustained to support contemporary urban living. Therefore, if
multi-habitats are seen as favorable elements in a plural society, habitat formation in cities
need planning intervention that goes beyond land use zoning and building control. This paper
is positioned neither as a proponent nor as an opponent of the multi-habitats debate, but rather
it tries to explore the process of transformation of a sub-center in Bangkok in order to grasp a
better understanding in the planning interventions that has undergone in becoming a heterogeneous
place. Therefore in the foregoing discussion the term homogeneous habitat, the term unitary
habitats, and multi-habitats are used in order to avoid any judgmental biases.
The relative advantages and disadvantages of unitary habitats and multi-habitats in the
context of urban planning, a comparison of their characteristics are listed in Table1.
1 This paper defines multi-habitat as a socially and culturally plural society living co-existence in a physical environment. Under this definition, multi-habitat is not so associated with mixed land use, although it is one of the characteristics.
2 This paper defines a homogeneous habitat to include socially and culturally uniform communities that exist in the same physical environment. Under this definition, homogeneous habitat differs in terms of single-purpose land use scenarios.
3 The term “pluralistic” in this discussion refers to the co-existence of groups with different ethnic, religious or political backgrounds within one society.
The characteristics of unitary and multi-habitat sites
Table 1 also implies that the transformation process from a unitary habitat to a multi-habitat
encompasses a complex process. It is debatable, whether simple social order as depicted in a
unitary habitat is better for contemporary societies than the complex social order that is
commonly considered to be the norm of a plural and inclusive society. In this context, the
transformation of outer urban areas from a traditional unitary habitat to other forms of
habitats in Asian cities is worthy of investigation. This paper is based on a case study
conducted in the outer urban area of Bangkok, where outcomes of three decades of planning
interventions in the Ladkrabang District of Bangkok, and the resulting transformation of
habitats that occurred. Ladkrabang was selected for the study due to its emergence as a new
sub-center in the Bangkok metropolis.
The study employed a social research methodology that allowed us to explore the perceptions
and attitudes of people who settled in the study area during different periods of development
plans of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA). Other than supports from relevant
secondary information, the study acquired the perceptions of respondents on the
transformation process from unitary habitats to multi-habitats, from their own perspectives.
For this purpose, a questionnaire was used along with pertinent secondary data regarding the
planning process that has been implemented in the study areas since the first development
As recorded in 2005, there were 32,700 registered households in the study area – including
both native people and migrants. Avoiding low responses 1500 respondents were randomly
selected among the registered households to receive the questionnaire. The required number
of samples was calculated using 90% confidence interval (z=1.645), an estimated 50%
unknown participation (p=0.5), and a precision of 5% (D=0.05). This resulted in the required
a minimum sample of 270 households. On this basis, the questionnaires were distributed to
1,500 households by visiting their premises. The respondents were given 10 days to respond.
From 1,500 prospective respondents, 598 returned the questionnaire after extending the time
period and sending reminders. This number was obviously larger than the minimum required
responses. Because of the intensive and personalized interaction with the respondents, a
higher return could be achieved. The return questionnaires were stratified to three different
groups according to their household registration dates in the Ladkrabang District Office.
Respondents were limited to heads of household as identified from the list kept at the
Ladkrabang District Office.
The respondents who settled in the area before the BMA introduced the 1st Bangkok
Development Plan in 1976 were considered as original settlers or the native people, and 210
(35% of total responses) of them have responded. The respondents who settled in the area
during the 1st -5th Bangkok Development Plan periods, i.e. 1977-2000 (during the phase of
transformation were identified as old migrants, and 323 (54%) of them have responded. The
individuals settled in the area after the 6th Bangkok Development Plan in 2001 and were
identified as new to the area and 65 (11%) of them have responded.
Various secondary data from reliable sources such as government agencies and private sector
organizations were collected and analyzed. The data were particularly on the manifestation of
each period of Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) Development Plans with
respect to the habitat transformation. The following section presents the BMA development
plans for the District of Ladkrabang and explains their corresponding transformational
processes and intended outcomes.
BMA development plans for the Ladkrabang District and corresponding transformation processes and outputs
The Ladkrabang District is located in the outer part of the Bangkok Metropolitan Area.
According to DCP (2000), a portion of the outer BMA known as the green belt zone has been
specifically reserved for agricultural purposes. The main purpose of this reservation was to
protect the inner part of BMA from floods. In addition to flood protection, the green belt zone
was intended to control urban sprawl as well.
Development of new infrastructure, particularly transportation networks in the outer areas,
contributed to the urbanization trend. Many new infrastructure developments were followed
by land conversions from agricultural uses to real estate developments. Land conversion in
the Ladkrabang District as seen in Figure 1 has continued unabated under successive
development plans of BMA.
The Ladkrabang District comprises six administrative sub-districts, namely, Khlong-song
Tonnun, Khlong-sam Prawet, Lumplateaw, Kumtong, Ladkrabang and Tapyaew. Present
land-use composition of these sub-districts varies from predominantly agricultural activities
to predominantly non-agricultural activities. This is possibly a direct result of three decades
of planning interventions. The major functions of the whole district according to the
development plans of BMA including observable manifestation on selected physical
attributes of the transformation are listed in Table 2. Three physical attributes of the effects of
development plans have been selected. The attributes include land use changes, demographic
changes and housing development trends. These attributes were selected because of their
visibility and measurability.
Effects of the development plans of BMA in Ladkrabang were observed and substantiated by
analyzing three selected attributes of urban development. This is discussed in subsequent
BMA development plans have contributed to the present mixed land-use characteristics. The
plans as summarized in Table 2 depict the transformation of the Ladkrabang District. This
preliminary argument is also supported by the fact that land use transformation from
predominantly farmland to more diverse use of land use categories has been undergoing
along with the development plan.
The transformation process as substantiated by land use changes towards heterogeneous use
of land, has also been supported by the diversity of occupations of the people living in
Ladkrabang that is discussed in the later sections of this paper.
The major initiatives planned and implemented in the Ladkrabang District since 1976 under
the 1st to 7th development plans of BMA
Major Facets of Transformation
Habitats often evolve through a dynamic transformation process over a given period of time.
This transformation may involve a change from a unitary habitat to a multi-habitat. This
section presents evidence from the survey conducted in the Ladkrabang District of Bangkok
to examine its transformation during the 1st to 6th development plans of BMA (1975-2006).
Land use change as one of the key indicators of the transformation was investigated. Along
with this line, the survey was also focused on demographic changes, new housing
developments and their locations, as three major determinants of the transformation.
After 30 years of planning interventions, the Ladkrabang District has experienced different
kinds of development that have physically transformed from a pristine agricultural area to a
predominantly industrial and service zone of BMA. As a result of the changing focus of
successive plans, the Ladkrabang District today features a mixture of agricultural land,
residential land, commercial land, industrial land and land reserved for future residential
development, transportation, education and warehousing in addition to water conservation.
Non-agricultural and agricultural areas co-exist in an uneasy relationship due to the shift of
focus over successive development plans. Along with this line, it seems to us that change in
focus of successive development plans is undesirable from conventional urban planning
perspective as intricate relationship among the elements will develop further. It can be stated
that three decades of planning interventions have transformed the major portions of
Ladkrabang District from a unitary habitat which was predominated by agricultural activities
to a multi-habitat which comprised of different urban functions and a mixed population of
farmers, industrial workers and professionals. The extent of land-use changes during each
development plan is shown in Table 3.
As shown in Table 3, at the pre-planning period (before 1975) the farmland and greenery
were the predominant land uses. They accounted for more than 94 percent in comparison to
other land use categories. The propensity of land uses towards more heterogenic use of land
has been significantly undergoing. This corresponds to the emphasis of the development
plans of BMA as illustrated in Table 2.
This trend is expected to continue during the seventh plan (2006-2010), since this plan is
directly derived from the sixth plan. The major recommendation for the Ladkrabang District
in the seventh plan is for it to function as a transport logistics hub to support the
Suvarnabhumi International Airport which is located in the adjoining province, yet in the
vicinity of Ladkrabang District of Bangkok. The airport is surrounded by developable lands
that are presently used for mostly agricultural purpose. Land-use conversions in this area are
occurring at an alarming rate to meet the needs of transportation, service, industrial and
residential activities. Local and foreign investments are being made in the vicinity of the
airport. A concept called ‘Airtropolis’ has been aggressively promoted by the prodevelopment
lobby to establish a special administrative area comprising the Ladkrabang
District and the Nong-Ngu Haow District of the Samut Prakarn province.
According to the Land Law of Thailand, conversion of agriculture land for any other purpose
without permission is illegal. However, land speculators accelerate land conversion by
purchasing agricultural lands and turning them into fallow land by abandoning farming
activities and then sell or develop them for non-agricultural activities. Turning productive
land into fallow land also adds another dimension to the land transformation process, because
the land can be converted for different purposes later. In fact, the land-use pattern of
Ladkrabang is becoming increasingly mixed. In a similar manner, the social structure in this
area has also become very mixed.
By examining Table 3, it is clear that the propensity of the area towards more heterogeneous
habitat is substantiated. The change of land use towards the increase of non-agricultural areas
through the conversions of agricultural areas to non-agricultural areas is also corroborated.
However, this proof needs further corroboration for particular planning focus from 1st to 7
First development plan of BMA (1976-1980) had altered the landscape of Ladkrabang district
with previously predominant farm land. This was signified by the proliferation of residential
and industrial areas. Industries were in fact, the spearhead of the urban development. The
establishment of Bangchak Petroleum Industries in 1964 in another district has significant
influence to the propagation of residential areas in Ladkrabang District. This development
particularly occurred along Bangkok-Chonburi major road. This finding also supports the
observable facts on the manifestation of the development plans (last column of Table 2).
Further proofs can be examined through the rate of development of particular sector as
illustrated in Table 4.
During the period of 1st and 2nd plans, it is assumed that residential and industrial areas are
expected to increase. On the other hand, the farming lands are expected to decrease. Table 4
shows that the 1st plan has stimulated the faster increase of industrial development in
Ladkrabang in comparison to later periods as shown by the highest gradient of the increase of
industrial development which is 45.58 hectare/year. In line with this development, the
development of residential areas in 2nd development plan shows largest increase i.e. 23.04
ha/year in comparison to next periods of development plan. These outcomes show that the
focus of development in 1st and 2nd plans, which are industrial development and higher
education center, have significantly influenced the urban development in Ladkrabang
District, and it can therefore be said that development plan has driven the transformation.
In the 3rd and 4th plans when BMA fostered the conservation of agricultural areas in
Ladkrabang, although still high e.g. 71.59 and 85.96 hectares/year during 3rd and 4th plans
respectively, the plan was able to decelerate the progress of agricultural land conversion,
particularly if we compared with the progress of agricultural land conversion during first plan
e.g. 71.59 vis-à-vis 75.31 hectare/year. The rate of conversion was still high in the next
period of plan due to a carry-over effect of residential and industrial development from the
previous period of plans. This effect cannot be suddenly stopped along the path of
development although the focus of development changes. This fact shows that development
plans of BMA in Ladkrabang district have driven the transformation process.
During 5th development plan (1996-2000), the focus of the plan was on the development of
transportation network from Bangkok to Eastern Seaboard. Along with the development of
this express way, real estate developers gained the momentum to proliferate. The rate of
residential development during this period was 95.37 hectare/year. A similar fashion also
occurred in industrial development. This rate was the highest during the overall period of the
In the 6th plan when Suvarnabhumi International Airport became the focus of development in
the adjoining districts, the residential development in this area plunged into only one-fifth
from the previous period. This was because of the possible displeasure due to noise pollution
created by the operation of the Airport. This was also a reflection of housing developers’
apprehension of losing their market.
Within the last year of 6th development plan of BMA (2009-2010), Ladkrabang district has
shifted its natural speed of the development of residential and industrial sectors i.e. the
previous predominant speed prior to 6th development plan. Current rate of residential
development is almost double, and in the same time, the rate of industrial development is 150
percent of the rate during previous period of development plans. This finding substantiates
the observable facts during this period of planning as illustrated in the last column of Table 2.
The corroboration of observable effects (in Table 2) demonstrates that the transformation
from unitary habitat to multi-habitats takes place and will continue as the development takes
Discussion above reveals that changes of focus of successive development plans of BMA
have been a driving force of the transformation of the Ladkrabang District towards a multihabitat, more precisely a peculiar multi-habitat. It is peculiar because of the presence of
dichotomous land-uses i.e., agriculture and non-agriculture in close proximity. This is the
eventual process of the transformation in which the planning interventions enact as a driving
force. This substantiation is also supported by the examination of demographic change in the
Land-use change has been the major force behind population growth in the outer
metropolitan areas. Some have migrated from other provinces while others have moved from
other areas of Bangkok. The urbanization in the study area is characterized by a high
proportion of inhabitants engaged in non-agricultural activities. Table 5 shows the gradual
transformation of the Ladkrabang District in terms of predominant occupations of households
at the end of each plan. The table demonstrates the speed of transformation of the district
during the 30-year planning period. While the number of households engaged in agricultural
activities has steadily declined in parallel to reductions in agricultural land area, the number
of households engaged in non-agricultural activities has tripled. It remains unclear whether
agricultural households shifted to other areas or to non-agricultural occupations.
Table 5 illustrates a consistent decrease of agricultural-related occupations along with a
consistent increase of non-agricultural occupations. It was found that the increase of nonagricultural
occupations was because of two reasons; the engagement of new migrant settlers
with non-agricultural occupations and the shift of original settlers from agricultural
occupations. This fact was further corroborated by other proofs that per household
agricultural area continuously decreased in line with the continuous increase of per household
non-agricultural area. This is a clear message that successive planning interventions have led
the district towards heterogeneous habitat.
This finding is also consistent with the survey. Survey found as illustrated in Table 6 that
people who engage in non-agricultural activities comprise the overwhelming majority of the
sample e.g. more than seventy-five percents. However, it is interesting to note that the single
largest occupation type in Ladkrabang is farming (23.7%) followed by industrial jobs
(21.9%). This perhaps reflects the result of aggressive urbanization and industrialization over
the past three decades. These findings also show that the planned interventions in Ladkrabang
have either resulted in a change of occupation of the original settlers or induced migrants to
settle in the Ladkrabang District and engage in non-agricultural activities.
No single occupation dominates in our sample. Therefore it is argued that planning
interventions in the Ladkrabang District have created a pluralistic society in terms of
variability of occupations. Although the data provide no conclusive answer, we would
assume that original settlers have not been displaced by migrants. Instead, a significant
number of farmers appear to have changed their occupations in response to the various
urbanization and industrialization forces in the area. Similarly, we assume that the original
residents have continued to live in their original homes despite changing jobs. In order to
identify the location and housing characteristics of both the original settlers and the migrants,
a physical survey was conducted in addition to the questionnaire-based social survey.
Housing development trends
A field survey reveals a clear distinction between original settlers and migrants in terms of
housing locations. While original settlers mostly live along canals in a dense and organic
pattern, migrants seem to have settled along roads and in housing estates in a dense but
geometrical pattern. Original settlers and migrants are not separated in terms of location. This
is due to the strict planning interventions that have permitted new development only in areas
prescribed in the land use plan. The areas that are designated for agricultural conservation
have seen few developments. Some of which may have developed without any permission.
These planning interventions have helped to avoid segregation of communities along social
and occupational lines. In other words, planning interventions have contributed to build
socially mixed communities.
Given the urbanization trend in Ladkrabang and its vicinity, especially after the establishment
of the new international airport in the adjoining district, BMA strictly regulates the expansion
of new settlements in the Ladkrabang District. Such a measure is required for the long-term
sustainability of this part of the city because it is an ecologically sensitive area. The
conservation of agricultural land as well as other wetlands in the three easternmost districts of
Bangkok (Nongjok, Klong-Samwa, & Ladkrabang) is very crucial as flood retention areas.
The local administration, which is itself a branch of the Bangkok Metropolitan
Administration, has had to resist the pressure from real estate developers who wish to
speculate on the urban development stimulated by the new industries and encouraged by
The development of King Mongkut Institute of Technology in Ladkrabang (KMITL) in 1960
with full development completed in 1981 along with the development of some industrial
areas in Ladkrabang District had brought to the development of residentia
in Figure 2. Further development of KMITL was followed by the residential development of
(Wat bumrungruen community), B(Wat sam community), C(Huatakay community) and
D(Banchonlada) in the vicinity of KMITL. Survey also found that about 17% of the residents
in these places were students/lecturers/staffs of the university. This attestation proves th
observable effects of planning intervention during this period is substantiated.
Respondents’ perceptions on some issues in two different periods
The transformation has created less cohesive social relationships. This was perceived by
majority of the respondents, whether original settlers or older migrants. Original settlers
perceived a less cohesive society as reflected in their responses – 41.9% (unitary habitat) to
31.4% (multi-habitat). Similarly, older migrants responded in the same way at a rate of 37.8%
(unitary habitat) versus 23.2% (multi-habitat). This suggests that transformations from a
unitary habitat into a multi-habitat have created two asynchronous outcomes in terms of
economic and social aspects. Ideally, development should promote both economic and social
well-being. This finding is in opposition to what Fujii’s argument that multi-habitat can be
places where different ethnic, cultural and economic backgrounds live and work in harmony.
Fujii perhaps true for certain conditions which need further research and deliberation.
The original settlers considered that the natural environment was more attractive before the
arrival of the new migrants (52.8% versus 20.5%). Similarly, older migrants also perceived
that the natural environment worsened (40% versus 27.6%).
Sustainable development aims to offer a proper balance between social, economic and
environmental change. We would argue that the transformation in Ladkrabang driven by
planning interventions of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has led to an
improvement of economic conditions, but a deterioration of the natural environmental and
social cohesiveness within the community as perceived by the respondents.
The transformation process in Ladkrabang, which was driven by successive development
plans as a driving force, has resulted in the growth of multi-habitats. The successive
development plans have been a driving force of the transformation from unitary habitat to
multi-habitat. This can be examined from the corroboration of the hypotheses as previously
discussed. It is also arguable that the transformation is probably not “intentional and planned”
outcomes and may instead be by-products of the implementation process of the plans. The
development plans also do not explicitly direct the transformation to happen. Apart from
these arguments, this study has attempted to observe from a different view where
development plans are considered as the driving force of the transformation.
The change in planning focus as demonstrated by successive BMA development plans for the
Ladkrabang District is basically responsible for present outcomes. The results are not unique
to the Ladkrabang District and Bangkok Metropolitan area, but are also evident in other
South East Asian Cities such as Jakarta, Manila, Kuala Lumpur and other big cities. The
results suggest that urban development does not follow a single path. This conclusion
matches that of Marcotullio (2001) who argues that globalization-driven growth has not
translated into a single path of development but that localities have instead followed
contextually specific paths. The Ladkrabang District has witnessed exactly such a change and
a shift towards multi-cultural communities in the context of a multi-habitat environment.
The Ladkrabang District had experienced natural expansion in the midst of a ‘no-planning’
state, before development planning by the introduce of BMA in 1976. After 1976, successive
planning efforts with different emphases and different focus areas have been implemented on
a regular basis. This has driven Ladkrabang toward transformation from predominantly
agricultural activities (a unitary habitat) to multifaceted interdependent activities (multihabitats).
The study identified both discouraging and encouraging outcomes in this context.
The proofs also show that the development plans of BMA are the major driving force of the
By looking at unitary habitats and multi-habitats, researcher highlighted improved economic
opportunities as reflected by greater household incomes. This was the most obvious
encouraging outcome of the transformation process. Simultaneously, social cohesiveness and
natural environmental functions declined progressively as the societal structure was
transformed from a unitary habitat into a multi-habitat site. The findings suggest that
heterogeneous habitats are desirable from economic viewpoint but undesirable from social
and environmental perspectives. On the other hand, multi-habitation processes cannot be
avoided when changes in focus of successive development plans exist and loosely guided
urban development takes place, as witnessed in many cities across developing countries.
We know of three possible strategies for cities in developing countries. The first is to let
heterogeneous habitats grow and to accept the resulting adverse environmental and social
impacts. The second strategy is similar with the first, but introduced the mitigation strategy
for possible adverse environmental and social impacts resulting in the unitary habitat growth.
The third strategy is to promote a unitary habitat to strictly control land-use in peri-urban
areas. The reality is that urban development trends in the peripheries of Bangkok and cities
in Southeast Asia such as Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Manila, tends towards an uncontrolled
organic development and results in multi-habitat sites. Crowded communities are also often
built to form artificial unitary habitats. This is the easiest strategy for any city authority to
implement. The transformation process in Ladkrabang is one such example. Changes in the
focus of development and inconsistent planning goals have led to Ladkrabang’s organically
grown heterogeneous habitats. The majority of people see these as being deficient from a
social and environmental perspective.
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