Stinging criticism for Athens town plan

Plans for the construction of new major roads in the greater Athens area will simply ensure that the sprawling metropolis continues to grow and provide no protection for dwindling green spaces, experts agreed at a seminar yesterday. According to the majority of participants at the event, organized by the Greek Association of Urban and Regional Planners, draft reforms aimed at curbing development across Attica do not set out clear parameters and could lead to a further downgrade of the broader area if they are implemented. «How can Athens pursue its bid to reach the level of other major European Union capitals if its center is being run down consistently and has so many environmental problems?» the association’s president, Vivi Batsou, remarked. «Doesn’t the constant creation of new roads simply allow the city to expand at the expense of urban regeneration?» she added. Some town-planning experts in attendance noted that the proposed reforms are based on outdated information and geographical coordinates. «Many of the provisions are based on old data, meaning that they describe a state of affairs that no longer exists,» said Thessaly University Professor Dimitris Economou, citing as an example the region of Mesogeia in eastern Attica, which has undergone major development in recent years. Another academic noted that the proposed changes clash with other reforms currently being pushed through by the Environment and Public Works Ministry and other ministries. «The reforms do not take into account provisions contained in the national zoning plan and separate zoning plans for industry and tourism,» said Pavlos Loukakis, honorary professor at Athens’s Panteion University.