The center of Athens and the strategic planning of Attica
Part of the facilities of PYRKAL in the Municipality of Ymittos. It is planned to transfer ministries from the center of the capital. (NEW INTIME)
In a recent article by the Minister of State Akis Skertsos (“K”, 31.10.21) he calls us “to imagine life in the center again”, on the occasion of the “imminent” transfer of nine ministries in the PYRKAL area in the Municipality of Ymittos, which will allow the release 127 buildings and 350,000 sq.m., to accommodate new uses and new residents. Looking back at the post-war history of the city, the columnist records – aptly – the negatives “the lack of organized urban planning” and the positives the “democratic character of the resulting urban coexistence”. However, the position that he then supports, reproduces the negative tradition of the urban history of Athens and cancels its positive elements.
To be precise, it does not reproduce the lack of planning – because Athens now has a vigorous planning of timeless political effort and cross-party consensus – but introduces a similar ethos, its tacit knowledge and fragmentary reversal. Moreover, the essence of the proposal, which is a violent evacuation of the center of the capital, overturns the coexistence and interoperability relations that have been gradually built and – despite the multifaceted crisis – have emerged as a cohesive grid of high resilience and dynamic, with vital . the executive management.
The subversive plan is the Athens / Attica Master Plan (RSA), institutionalized only in 2014, as a strategic regional spatial plan, ie with a horizon of at least 15 years. In the light of the modern approach to upgrade the international competitiveness of each metropolis, the RSA identifies the dipole of the centers of Athens – Piraeus as “very international in scope (…) with a multidimensional range of integrated activities: executive administration, education, culture, offices , processing (…), trade and tourism “. It defines as their axis of reconstruction “the maintenance of their role as places of concentration of social and political institutions, by stimulating them as centers of executive administration”, along with other policies for “strengthening activity and employment”, “maintaining housing and development” . new “,” activating the empty building stock “,” maintaining social diversity “,” strengthening efforts by public transport “, etc.
The overthrow of the RSA, apart from being politically wrong, is also institutionally impossible. As it is not confused with the localized modification of urban regulations, when they are considered obsolete, which is acceptable – through a special urban plan – provided that it aims to implement the purposes of the above spatial / regional plan. In other words, the legislator recognizes the need for stability of the medium-long-term spatial planning strategy, although it provides regulatory flexibility at the urban level. The announcement, therefore, that the transfer of the ministries “will start to be implemented from 2022, when the new project will be announced”, rejects lack of realism and savings with the painstaking institutional procedures that precede the planning decisions. This is a time-consuming but necessary process of “maturation”, which includes: scientific studies, intra-administrative coordination and consultation – with stakeholders and the public – on integrated alternative scenarios, at the initial stage, ie for decision-making, required by national and European legislation. (Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment), not tabled by an “amendment”.
For the urban regeneration of the historic center of Athens, there is already the Integrated Urban Intervention Plan (SOAP / 2017), a multi-sectoral operational program (signed by 17 ministers), which is unfortunately inactive, instead of providing a guide for the Municipality of Athens . overcoming simple political landscaping projects and undertaking integrated urban management actions (urban management), with multi-level and corporate governance in cooperation with the private sector. This managerial capacity is required by Mr. Skertsos’s positive proposals for: reusing abandoned buildings, attracting new residents, upgrading hotels, or even proposals for demolition / expropriation of buildings, which do not need the mass removal of the administration but oppose are not based on the integrated strategy of RSA and SA.
The evacuation of the center from the executive administration is an idea outside the literature.
However, because the rationalization of the location of the executive administration is really necessary to deal with chronic malfunctions, it would be positive to promote “urban acupuncture” type programs in the spirit of the metropolitan interventions of the RSA, which have multiplier positive interventions, without overthrowing it. Creating single administrative parks is an outdated practice. Realistic are smaller relocations such as the transfer of “public works” next to the “Transport”, in the periphery of the metropolitan park of Goudi, a location on the western axis of the metro (eg the Rural Development in synergy with the Agricultural), as a driving force lever. acceleration of the transformation of Eleonas, and the transfer to PYRKAL of a ministry, such as e.g. the Environment, housed in scattered high-rent buildings. These are locations that have the urban conditions due to good transport service and respect the bearing capacity of the reception area, as long as they are accompanied by sustainable mobility options, such as vehicle control, to avoid the arrival of cars. In PYRKAL in particular, this proposal responds to the metropolitan character of the area, which exceeds the boundaries of the municipality, but also to the local expectation of creating a green cultural-sports park provided by the General Urban Plan, by simply adding the use of administration.
Here’s the proper way to apply the idea of ”investing more in staff planning than in improvising” ideas without scientific paternity.
Spatial planning is a science with principles, rules, strategy and operational methodology, in the development and distribution of which the EU contributes constructively. with guidelines and binding instructions (Territorial Agenda, Strategic Environmental Assessment, etc.). The evacuation of the center from the executive administration is an out-of-bibliographic idea, which is far from the European concept of metropolitan planning and spatial cohesion, extremely dangerous for the future of the capital, because it increases its vulnerability to international crises such as the recent pandemic.
* Mrs. Maro Evangelidou is the President of the Institutional Framework Council of ELLET, former born. Secretary of the Environment.