Attica’s urban development spreading at frenetic pace

Attica is expanding at a frenetic pace. In less than 10 years, around 4.5 million people will live in a vast continuum of urban sprawl. Apartment blocks are going up in the Mesogeion area even before sewer systems have been installed. The olive groves and farms of the Thriassio plain are thinning out, being replaced by warehouses, transport companies and high-impact development from all over the prefecture. Summer vacation sites are attracting primary residences, while northern Attica and Megarida are losing their agricultural expanses. The airport’s move to Spata and the construction of the Attiki Odos sped up a process that began 15 years earlier: the movement of residents from Athens and its large municipalities to the northeast and southeast, and the transfer of high-impact development to the west. An Athens University study directed by Kleito Gerardi, professor of architecture at the National Technical University of Athens, indicates that by 2015 the population of Athens will be distributed as follows: – In the central municipalities of the Attica basin (Athens, Galatsi, Nea Halkidona, Zografou, Kaisariani, Vyronas, Hymettus and Dafni) the population will fall from 1,001,000 in 2001 to 826,000-855,000. – In the Piraeus district (the municipalities of Piraeus, Aghios Ioannis Rendi, Moschato, Tavros, Nikaia, Korydallos, Drapetsona, Keratsini, Perama and the islands of Salamina, Aegina, Agistri, Hydra, Spetses, Troizinia, Methana, Poros, Kythera and Antikythera) the population will remain fairly stable with a small decrease. – In southern Athens (the municipalities of Kallithea, Nea Smyrni, Palaio Faliron, Aghios Dimitrios, Ilioupolis, Argyroupolis, Alimos, Hellenikon, Glyfada, Voula, Vouliagmeni and Vari), the population is expected to rise from 598,000 as registered in 2001 to 665,000-690,000. – In northern Athens (the municipalities and communities of Maroussi, Pefki, Kifissia, Nea Erythraia, Ekali, Halandri, Vrilissia, Aghia Paraskevi, Holargos, Papagou, Psychico, Neo Psychico, Filothei, Pendeli, Nea Pendeli, Melissia, Nea Ionia, Iraklion, Nea Philadelphia, Lykovrissi and Metamorphosis) the population is expected to rise from 590,000 in 2001 to 742,000-768,000. – In western Athens (municipalities of Aegaleo, Aghia Varvara, Haidari, Peristeri, Petroupolis, Ilion, Aghioi Anargyroi, Kamateron, Zefyri, Archanes, Thrakomakedones and Ano Liossia) the population will rise slightly from 584,000 in 2001 to 600,000. – In eastern Attica (the municipalities of Elefsina, Mandra, Magoula, Aspropyrgos, Fyli, Eryuthres, Villia, Oinoe, Nea Perama and Megara), the population is estimated to reach 126,000, compared to 114,000 in 2001. – In northern Attica (the municipalities and communities of Aghios Stefanos, Kryoneri, Anoixi, Drossia, Stamata, Rodopoli, Dionysos, Nea Makri, Marathonas, Grammatiko and Varnava) the population will rise to 118,000 from 72,300 in 1991. – Last, in eastern Attica (the municipalities and communities of Gerakas, Anthoussa, Glyka Nera, Paiania, Kropia, Spata, Markopoulo, Rafina, Pikermi, Artemis, Lavreotiki, Keratea, Kalivia, Kouvara, Saronida, Palia Fokia and Anavyssos), the population is expected to rise from 190,800 in 2001 to 244,000 in 2015. Experts say it is essential that the city’s frantic pace of expansion to the east and west be reined in and that the retention of agricultural land and the remaining green spaces must become a top priority.