Athens regulatory plan in tatters

The head of the state body in charge of regulating development in Attica has revealed that he quit his position due to the government?s delay in submitting a new scheme to Parliament and has suggested that he was being pressured to remove restrictions to construction in some areas.

Speaking after his resignation last week, Yiannis Polyzos, the head of the Organization for the Athens Regulatory Plan (ORSA), said that the protracted process of getting parliamentary approval for the new regulatory plan convinced him that he should resign. He was joined by his deputy in leaving ORSA.

?The main reason for my resignation was the failure to submit the plan to Parliament,? he said. ?If it is submitted to Parliament now, then the proper legal process will not have been followed relating to the publication of the environmental impact study.?

Polyzos suggested that he was put under pressure from the Environment Ministry to make changes to the plan that ORSA had compiled relating to where shopping malls and industrial facilities could be built.

He also objected to the government?s plans to lease the coastal site of the former Athens airport at Elliniko to investors interested in building apartments and shops there. ?The planned investment in Elliniko will be equivalent to 60 Malls [a large shopping center next to the Olympic Stadium] and is in complete contrast to the efforts to revive commercial activity in the center of Athens. If it is accompanied by the removal of services, it will signal the death of the downtown area,? he said.

Successive governments have tried to regulate development in the capital in recent decades, with key initiatives in 1970, 1985, 2000 and 2009.

Meanwhile, two MPs, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis of New Democracy and Giorgos Haralambopoulos, submitted to Parliament on Monday a proposal to allow the Church of Greece to build a solar park on the slopes of Mount Pendeli, north of Athens, despite the law on forest protection forbidding construction on this land. The proposal suggests the Church be granted the right to build on the 350-hectare plot in return for reforesting 2,000 hectares of land.

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