NEWS

Athens is spilling out eastward

The almost exhaustively built-up Athens area is rapidly spilling out of its natural confines and into parts of eastern Attica once occupied by vineyards and peaceful, rolling countryside. According to figures provided by the Eastern Attica Prefecture, a total of 7,000 hectares of land have been added to the city plan since 1995, one year before construction started on the new Athens airport at Spata, in Mesogeia, Attica’s ancient agricultural heartland. At the same time the population of the area, much of which was, until fairly recently, occupied by city dwellers’ holiday homes, has grown by an average of 58 percent – 120 percent in Pikermi – with the new residents living there all the year round. A study by the Koropi Municipality, which lies about 24 kilometers from the center of Athens, estimates that over the next 20 years the local population will have grown by 110 percent to reach 56,000. In 1995, 13,000 people lived in Koropi. Even the quiet port town of Lavrion, some 54 kilometers from the capital, is expecting a population growth of 50 percent by 2010. «The town is rapidly turning into an area of permanent residence,» Lavrion Mayor Dimitris Loukas told Kathimerini. «Construction of the new airport, the Attiki Odos highway and the suburban railway have changed Lavrion’s character. The population explosion that is expected to follow will be a challenge for the entire Mesogeia region.» Markopoulo Mayor Fotis Magoulas said municipal authorities are moving to include another 500 hectares in the town plan. «Over 800 families are making a living out of the new [Markopoulo] racetrack, while even more work at the airport,» he said.