Zoning plan submitted to Parliament
Kathimerini 17 Apr 2008

Bill to be voted on in May.

Greece's first national zoning plan, which aims to regulate land development over the next 15 years, was submitted to Parliament yesterday.

Experts have criticized the draft bill, saying that it does not deal with the problem of uncontrolled urban sprawl or illegal construction activity and also fails to provide for the country's islands.

The bill says it «addresses the management of measures, after thorough studies, such as the creation of bus lanes and setting up of toll roads in areas or urban centers where traffic has come to a standstill.»

A number of municipal officials, political representatives and transport experts have opposed plans to set up toll areas, arguing that it will be an ineffective measure just aimed at earning the government revenues.

A parliamentary committee is expected to debate the draft bill over the next two weeks, giving MPs an opportunity to modify the draft plan, which will head for a final vote by lawmakers in May.

The initial proposal is the result of efforts by about 40 experts from various fields, and was submitted to the Environment and Public Works Ministry where it was subsequently divested of any «troublesome» amendments or innovative approaches.

The designers of the plan had mentioned the need to wean the islands off dependency on Athens and Thessaloniki and to organize the Aegean archipelago as an autonomous unit with four centers - Iraklion on Crete, Ermoupolis on Syros, Rhodes and Mytilene.

The zoning plan submitted to Parliament yesterday, however, has failed to take this into account, say experts.

«Points of growth for the mainland have been clearly set out but for the islands they are non-existent,» said one architect, Rania Kloutsiniotis, who was one of the experts who initially drafted the plan.

«They could have created new sea and airport routes between the islands that do not necessarily pass through Athens.»