Athens to target illegal buildings

Athens town-planning authorities are gathering steam for an extremely ambitious blitz at the end of the month against thousands of illegal structures in the capital, starting with those built on public land. Municipal sources who spoke to Kathimerini hope that, if all goes according to plan, such provocative targets will eventually be succeeded by attention toward the kind of illegal structure that is ten-a-penny in the more built-up parts of town – such as the unauthorized walling-in of balconies and rooftops in blocks of flats. Illegal signposts and shop signs will also be demolished. Athens city officials have already drawn up a list of some 4,000 unauthorized structures, for 2,500 of which final demolition orders have been issued which were never obeyed by the buildings’ owners. Nevertheless, the town-planning department has put off the campaign until the end of October to allow proprietors a last chance to knock down the illegal structures themselves, salvaging the building materials while also saving municipal authorities demolition costs. The first phase of the drive will cost 150,000 euros. Targets are expected to include buildings around the site of the former Fix factory on Patission Street, where 400 square meters of storage area have been built on public land, and a nightclub illegally occupying 1,000 square meters on Protomagias Square, on Petrou Ralli Avenue. Furthermore, demolition teams will take on the illegal structures that dot the capital’s public parks. In certain cases, however, municipal authorities propose to select buildings for demolition according to «social criteria.» This means that illegal buildings occupied by less well-off Athenians – such as the Papandreika settlement on Tourkovounia Hill – will survive the blitz.