NEWS

Plan aims to curb urban sprawl

A new study by experts from the University of Thessaly aims to curb the capital’s growing urban sprawl by establishing strict limits on construction and excluding areas with illegal construction from the town plan. The study, which would replace a 1985 plan that has been outgrown by the burgeoning capital, proposes the maintenance of agricultural activities in the broader Attica area and the protection of the environment so that dwindling green spaces are preserved for future generations. In order to restrict the number of new structures springing up across Attica, it proposes that construction in areas outside the town plan be allowed only on plots covering 2 hectares or more. It also calls for a reduction in building coefficients to curb the proportion of plots on which one can build. The study, carried out in cooperation with civil engineers at the Organization for Planning and Environmental Protection of Athens (ORSA) and due to be submitted to the Environment and Public Works Ministry, notes an increase in the «disproportion of Athens in relation to the rest of the country» and promotes a series of radical changes. These include the regeneration of the capital’s historic center as well as the center of Piraeus, with a particular emphasis on run-down and densely populated areas with old buildings. The authors of the study highlight the importance of a strict crackdown on illegal structures in all parts of Attica, noting that the connection of these buildings to electricity and water networks should be absolutely forbidden. The study also proposes that western Attica become the focus of a controlled urban decentralization in the near future, but calls for a ban on the extension of existing settlements in already overpopulated eastern Attica. As for the coastal suburbs of southern Attica, experts propose that any new construction be limited to existing settlements. They also propose «limited construction» on the islands off Attica’s coastline.