(Still) trying to halt the advance of cement and retain residential space

Athens Municipality is trying to clarify land use and business activities in 27 areas of the city by activating the procedures for issuing presidential decrees. The decrees are based on studies started in the early 1990s, some of which were only completed a few weeks ago. The municipality has already sent studies that cover practically all of Athens to the Ministry of the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works (YPEHODE) so that the presidential decrees can be issued immediately. The first group of studies was sent to the ministry seven years ago, but no decrees were issued. The municipality has heard that the departments of YPEHODE that deal with such matters have received orders to take action, which seems likely as YPEHODE is amending the town plan of Athens. Though the town-planning studies sent to the ministry do not suggest radical solutions, their proposals to freeze or drastically limit permits for restaurants and stores, and to extend pedestrian zones, could bring a measure of relief to parts of the city. In Kolonaki, the foothills of Lycabettus, Ilissia, Aghios Pavlos, Neapoli, Kypseli, Amerikis and Victoria squares, Aghios Panteleimonas and Kolonos, there would be some strictly residential areas for which no new permits for restaurants and stores would be issued. The town-planning study for Kolonaki suggests extending the system, adopted in Plaka, of prohibiting the transfer of permits for stores except to first-degree relatives. In many areas such as Philopappou, Koukaki and Makryianni, drastic limitations would be placed on new permits for stores, while in other areas such as Neapoli and Kountouriotika, the studies recommend prohibiting stores and professional premises on the ground floors of apartment buildings. In nearly all the areas covered, the studies suggest linking open spaces with pedestrian areas or considerably widening pavements: for example, linking Victoria Square with the Pedio tou Areos park. In strictly residential areas where there is little unbuilt land, they recommend that the unroofed spaces of apartment blocks be joined to create more free space. The studies submitted to YPEHODE recommend curbing building heights by reducing the building to space ratio in many areas, except for the city center. Both the municipality and the people who produced the town-planning studies believe that measures which highlight the good side of Athens and check uncontrolled growth of inappropriate activities in saturated areas will improve the city’s image and attract foreign

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