23 January 2018, Tuesday, 17:09

Minsk residents protest against infill development: “We won't surrender without fighting!” (Video)


Hundreds of people gathered in the administration of the Pershamaiski district in Minsk to express their protest.

A deficit of spare land makes the city authorities and architects look for new places suitable for infill development.

The city authorities saw great prospects in a military base within the streets Yakub Kolas – Belinsky – Kalinin – Kalinin Lane. The Ministry of Defence is ready to give the land for the construction of blocks of flats. Thousands of Minsk residents, perhaps, would agree to construct homes and move to the rather comfortable place, but the locals took possible changes hard. Hundreds of people of different age attended the presentation of the project in the Parshamaiski district administration to protest and demand respect for their right to a favourable living environment, onliner.by writes.

The military air defence base is a calm green site in Minsk. Dwellers of nearby blocks of flats got used to looking at soldiers and hearing the echo of marching songs in the morning and in the evening. Everything may change if the area will be turned into a loud and dusty construction site. The locals are afraid of such prospects. It can later provoke plenty of social and transport problems, the locals fear.

The project, which was proposed for a public discussion, covers two city quarters. The first of them is the military base and surrounding territories near Kalinin Street. The second one lies within the streets Chorny – Tolbukhin – Knorin – Kalinin Lane.

Alina Kuchynskaya, an architect at Minskproject, said the area has was very attractive for urban development and had good transport connections to the city centre.

“The military base occupies a considerable part of the area now, but in accordance with the general plan approved by the president, there must be a residential area,” the architect said. “This territory should be turned into a multi-family residential zone. As many as 4,100 people live here now. According to the plan, the population of the district will rise to 8,100 people.

It is planned that apartment buildings will be constructed on the site of a former camp for Soviet war prisoners of 1941-1943. The sad history of the place stops neither architects nor construction firms: a nine-storey apartment block was built near the monument some years ago.

New apartment blocks are expected to be constructed on the site of the stadium, the club, garages and household buildings of the military base. Minskproject offered the project for a public discussion. The architect explained the drawings were for illustration purposes and did not depict the future buildings. The developer can propose its own design project, change the exterior of buildings and their type. However, the urban density cannot be changed once the detailed plan is approved.

Architects want to preserve the barracks along Yakub Kolas Street.

“The military keep these buildings are in a good state. They have good facades and can be used for the needs of the city. Trading, sporting and medical facilities can be located there,” Alina Kuchynskaya said.

According to the plan, two nursery schools would be constructed in the first quarter in addition to apartment blocks and parking lots. One of them will be built on the site of the abandoned nursery school in Kalinin Street. Last year, a developer wanted to breathe new life into the gloomy building by preserving two of three units and constructing a new 18-storey apartment block nearby, but the project was declined. It was decided to restore and enlarge the nursery school to 230 pupil places in view of the district growth.

The atmosphere was hot well before the discussion. Many people, who were already offended by the authorities, came to the meeting. Among them were dwellers of Kalinin Street who have first-hand experience of infill development and cutting down trees. Some people have to leave their homes involuntary after the buildings were sold at an auction.

“We won't surrender the military base without fighting,” the locals threatened. “If we agree, our district will be turned into a construction site until 2030.”

“You are not in Moscow! You cannot make arbitrary decisions!” a woman in the first row was shaking her fist. Minsk residents can make their proposals until August 21, 2014. The presentation materials and books for proposals can be found in the administration of Minsk's Pershamaiski district.