The Ho Chi Minh City People's Council said on Thursday it opposed a plan by VietinBank, Vietnam's largest partly private lender by assets, to construct a four-story building immediately next to a century-old high school.
The council, the legislative body of the city elected by the residents, said VietinBank needs to look for another construction site, giving space for the Le Quy Don High School to expand.
Le Quy Don High School, named after one of the most famous scholars in Vietnam, was built more than 130 years ago, during the French colonial era. Originally known as Lycee Jean Jacques Rousseau, the school is one of the oldest one in the country.
Pham Van Dong, head of the council's Economy and Budget Department, said the council will request its executive counterpart the People's Committee to help the bank find a new land lot.
Dong said legislators have also questioned the committee's decision to allow VietinBank to develop its project next to the school in the first place.
Until the end of 2007, the committee maintained its intention to expand the school over neighboring land lots, Dong said. But in June 2009, the committee gave VietinBank permission to develop its project over a land area of 440 square meters. A construction license was issued late last year.
Over the past few weeks, city officials have kept sending mixed messages over the already controversial project.
The People's Committee insisted that the VietinBank's building will be designed in accordance with the architecture of the school. In the future it can be even used by the school for educational purposes if necessary, the committee said.
On the contrary, the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism said the project will destroy the landscape and take away space from students.