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News 27 Dec 12

Albanian Reds See Nothing Green in Tirana Plan

Opposition Socialists says the city’s first urban plan in more than two decades will destroy its few remaining green spaces.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana
Mayor Lulzim Basha (center) explains to Prime Minister Sali Berisha, plans to extend Tirana's main bulevard

Tirana city council on Sunday, after a heated debate, approved the city’s first urban plan since 1989.

The plan was adopted with the votes of centre-right Democratic Party, to which Mayor, Lulzim Basha, belongs. 

The plan was approved with 28 votes in favour, 11 against and one abstention. Before the plan becomes applicable it must be approved by the national council for the regulation of territory, which is headed by the country's Democratic Party Prime Minister, Sali Berisha.  

Basha says the plan will regulate the development of the city after decades of wildcat construction, increase green areas and eliminate corruption.

But opposition Socialists accuse the Mayor of drafting a plan that chokes the city centre with new projects for apartment blocks in what are now parks.

Albania’s capital has become a victim of its own phenomenal growth in the past two decades with a construction boom restricting public space and creating increasing traffic problems.

The city’s development over this period has occurred in the absence of a complete urban plan, while allegations of corruption over building permits have mounted.

“This plan delineates in broad lines the direction in which the city will develop in all its components,” Basha told the city council meeting. “It serves as a sort of constitution for this city.. and is an historic act,” he added.

The Mayor dismissed opposition claims that the new plan will reduce green spaces, arguing that the project planned to more than triple them.

“Because of migratory pressure and the development of the city without a plan, there are only 0.8 square metres of green space per citizen,” Basha said. “The goal of the plan is to pass to a norm of three square metres per person,” he added.

However, Socialist city councillor and former deputy transport minister Artan Lame complained that the green areas projected in the plan lie beyond the city limits in outlying suburbs and communes.

“This plan removes all the restrictions on developing parks that were envisioned in previous drafts and leaves their development to the discretion of the municipality,” he told Top Channel TV.

“The plan practically erases all the green areas, which currently exist inside the city,” Lame added.  

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