Bém left, the power of developers remains - Arnika evaluated last year's work of Prague leaders
Prague - 21 January 2013
Even now, the shape of Prague is mostly determined by developers. Although Pavel Bém has not been sitting in the chair of the Mayor of Prague for two years, it seems as if his spirit was still ruling the capital's development. While the new land use plan is not to be seen in the foreseeable future, hundreds of exceptional changes are being discussed, which make it possible to build on green and arable land. Some people will profit. Whereas the municipality tries to keep a tight rein on the citizens. According to the Arnika Association, important decisions are made secretly and the documents are rather complicated, so that an ordinary man would not understand them. This conclusion is supported also by this analysis made by the non-governmental organisation (attached to the news).
“Apparently, neither the new political leadership of the city has power to stop changes of the land use plan, which favour the developers and speculators with land. The will to involve the citizens in decisions about Prague's future is as low as it used to be,“ comments Martin Skalský from Arnika on the situation at the Prague City Hall.
“The Deputy Mayor of Prague Tomáš Hudeček is, compared to his predecessors, the first expert on land-use planning. He is more open towards the public and it also seems that he doesn't have any personal connection to developer groups. However, he is probably an exception in the city hall, considering his qualities. The decisions about Prague's shape are still substantially influenced by groups of politicians connected with godfathers in the shadows,“ says Skalský.
The Arnika Association made its own analysis of the changes to the land use plan. According to it, of the 198 changes, which the members of the city assembly discussed over the past year, 130 changes – which means more than one half – may have a negative impact on the environment. Many of them mean further housing construction or new shopping centres. These negative changes take up almost
Last year, the Prague City Assembly approved 68 changes of the land use plan and another 21 wait for being discussed and city council recommended their approval. The city has also launched a new, so called IV. wave of changes in the land use plan that are of a city-scaled importance, which consists of 72 projects. For the whole year, the assembly declined only 34 changes. How much money can be involved in the changes of the land use plan, is suggested in an Arnika's analysis from 2010, which is available on the net.
“To assent developer projects by changing the land use plan is in conflict with the building act (stavební zákon). According to the law, it is prohibited to build on green and arable land, when one can build on other land in the city. All changes of the land use plan, whose goal are not for example improvements in the public transport, establishing new parks or building schools, cultural or medical facilities, should have been stopped a long time ago,“ says the lawyer Vendula Zahumenská from Arnika.
Similar “one year after” evaluations – in this case evaluation of the first year's work of Prague's new political leadership – were also announced by other Prague non-governmental organisations. For example the Prague Forum (in Czech: Pražské fórum), whose evaluation is available on this internet address or Auto*Mat, whose evaluation is in the form of a press release.
The first collective evaluation of the Prague political representation was made by Prague organisations in 2011.