Increase in Traffic at Pankrác Rejected by Court - Citizens’ Health at Stake

5.9.2008 - Prague

New roads will not be built on Pankrác Plain. Pollution in the area exceeds hygienic limits and more traffic would further deteriorate the situation. This is the ruling of the Municipal Court in Prague which dealt with the complaint of civic associations against increasing capacity of the road network on Pankrác Plain. Even though the project is at an advanced stage, construction of some key projects has to be stopped, e. g. the building of new off-ramps from the North-South Arterial Road. The ruling will also have an impact on the planned Epoque high-rises. Investors will have to reassess the projects and ensure transport services for them in a different way, without reliance on car traffic.

The complaint against the zoning permit on the traffic solution of the Pankrác Plain was written by Ondřej Tošner, attorney-at-law. According to him this is a breakthrough ruling. “The Court has also tackled the merits of the case, e. g. it stated that the traffic solution should have been assessed comprehensively with regard to its impact on the environment or that the building office was not entitled to approve new constructions in the territory which is polluted beyond limits by noise and chemical substances in the air unless compensation measures are provided for. It has thus been confirmed that the whole process of completing construction on Pankrác Plain is actually illegal,” said Ondřej Tošner.

“One of the reasons why the Court abrogated the zoning permit on increasing capacity of Pankrác roads is the fact, that the authorities had not taken into consideration opinions of the public. Though they gave people a chance to express their views they did not pay attention to their critical comments,” said Marie Janoušková of Citizens’ Initiative of Pankrác. We expect that the proceedings on the traffic situation in our neighborhood will return to the beginning and we will thus gain an opportunity to contribute to a partial improvement of the traffic concept, in cases which can still be altered,” said Janoušková.

She is referring to the fact that some parts of the new traffic solution have already been built, e. g. the roundabouts in Milevská and Hvězdova streets. New on-ramps on the arterial road are under construction but works should stop following the ruling. On the other hand the widening of the arterial road has not yet begun; the construction permit is being reviewed by court.

“Investors counted with a further increase in car traffic. However, due to the construction boom in the area of Pankrác and Budějovická street, the arterial road is often jammed and the traffic here should be reduced and not increased by the road’s widening,” comments on the situation Alžběta Rejchrtová of Citizens Afflicted by the North-South Arterial Road. “Hygienic limits for noise and air pollution are constantly exceeded in the area. Noise was also the reason why we filed an action against the City Hall and we won the case. The new ruling says that investment intentions should not endanger people’s health. It seems to be obvious but to this day the authorities have not adhered to this principle,” added Rejchrtová.

Zdeněk Holeček of Pankrác Society is convinced that Pankrác is an ideal place for applying a modern traffic concept. ”During the approval proceedings on the traffic solution we suggested making use of pedestrian, cycling and public transportation. No one responded to that. But Pankrác is perfectly suited for such a modern transportation concept. It is located on the intersection of the C underground line and the planned line D, there are bus routes here and a place for a new tram line,” explains Holeček. According to him the authorities can find inspiration in the modern Paris district La Défensé where cars have a limited access.

Marie Janoušková adds that developers now have to choose whether to redraft the projects so that they would not require an increase in automobile traffic or to give them up entirely. “Skyscrapers and other buildings on Pankrác Plain cannot be given zoning and buildings permits. Under Czech construction law it is not possible to permit construction of a building without transportation serviceability being resolved,” explained Janoušková.

The Municipal Court in Prague should soon issue a ruling on another case related to Pankrác. The Civic associations also filed a complaint against the permit on widening the North-South Arterial Road. The permit was issued by the City Hall though the Programme Statement of the City Council promises reducing traffic on this highway, which intersects the city, and turning it into a city boulevard.

(1) Full text of the ruling (52 pages, PDF, 8 MB) can be sent to you via e-mail.

(2) More information at:

(3) In what aspects is the court in agreement with the civic associations?

  • A complaint against a zoning permit can be filed by a civic association even though it is not directly affected by the construction at issue. Aarhus Convention empowers citizens to oppose any decision which has an impact on the quality of the environment.
  • When solving the traffic situation of a wide territory it is necessary to assess the problem comprehensively. It is not possible to permit individual constructions and divide the project into stages.
  • With such an extensive project as the new traffic concept of a whole urban district impact on the environment and citizens’ health must be assessed.
  • If a relevant authority’s statement was issued on the grounds of expert documents (e. g. a public health officer’s statement issued on the grounds of a noise study) parties to the proceedings must be given an opportunity to get acquainted with these documents and raise objections.
  • In a territory where noise and air pollution exceed hygienic limits further increase in car traffic or constructions inducing traffic cannot be permitted unless compensation measures are provided for.
  • Building offices and air protection authorities as well as public health officers’ departments are obliged to protect citizens’ right to a healthy environment. If they do not do so their acts are unlawful.
  • When approving concepts and construction which have a substantial impact on the environment and the character of the city the authorities have to take into consideration the public’s comments and objections.

(4) Which constructions are parts of the traffic solution of Pankrác Plain?

  • Two new on-ramps and one off-ramp from the arterial road already built but cannot be put into operation
  • A by-pass on 5.května street (the arterial road) which is to widen the artery between the streets Na Veselí a Pod Vršovickou vodárnou II construction started, the construction permit is being reviewed by court
  • Traffic interchange of 5. května and Hvězdova-Sdružení streets connected by ramps A1, A2 and B and the traffic interchange of 5. května a Na Strži streets with the C1, C2 and D ramps construction permit issued, construction has not started yet
  • Roundabouts on Hvězdova and Pujmanova streets built
  • 3 ramps on 5. května street including supporting walls and a bridge with a widened intersection connected to Na Strži street construction has not started yet

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