The government has decided to demolish 67 buildings in the Kombinat area to pave the way for a Municipal project which was planned in 2018 according to the master plan “TR2030”.
The demolitions are taking place despite protests by citizens. Meanwhile, a decision from the Administrative Court has halted the demolition of 3 apartment buildings, Respublica reports.
The demolition and construction of new buildings has a price tag of EUR 61.1 million.
The land will be used to construct a variety of 4-5 storey buildings over an area of 1.5 million square meters. This will provide homes for around 21,000 people including a shopping center similar to Pazari Ri, two museums, and the Faculty of Architecture. The first lot of construction will house some 2,292 families currently living in Kombinat whose homes were damaged by the November 26 earthquake. The rest of the apartments will be sold.
So far, there has been no information on how the apartments will be sold and which company or institution will manage it.
The Kombinat area is one of the five projects foreseen for redevelopment in the Tirana 2030 Master Plan, together with Farka, Kamza, Lapraka, and Misto Mame.
The master plan specifies that the Municipality will tender the development of the area so that private companies can benefit from construction bonuses, depending on the quality of the submitted project.
The redevelopment of old buildings or private houses will be carried out thanks to the cooperation between the Municipality and the builders. It will be the Municipality that will create the conditions for facilitating the transfer of property from the old residents to the builders. The concern is that there appears to be a lack of transparency and control mechanisms which leaves the process open for potential abuse.
Legal changes and adopted DCMs that pave the way for the privatization of Kombinat
On December 16, 2019, the government approved a normative act to regulate the process of reconstruction of buildings damaged by the earthquake. It states that municipalities or the government have the right to determine “the conditions for compulsory development, as well as the development of new areas.”
They also have the right to decide on “the demolition of buildings and the development of the territory where they are located […] if damaged from a natural disaster that endangers the lives of residents and the development of the area in accordance with the mandatory local plan.”
According to the normative act, a “forced demolition” shall proceed when:
“[…] The building has been damaged by a natural disaster and can not be repaired or when it poses a risk to life, according to the findings in deeds or assessments […] and if the repair costs more than the reconstruction from scratch […] even without the consent of owners.”
In other words, the Municipality has the right to expropriate and demolish any building in Tirana, against the wishes of the owner, under the pretext of it being damaged by the earthquake.
On December 24, 2019, the government approved the DCM on the procedure for drafting and approving the local plan and development permit by the Municipality.
The DCM of December 24 stipulates that after the government announces a new area for development, the municipalities will draft the mandatory local plan (PDV) within 30 days. This plan is then submitted “for recognition” to the National Council of the Territory, a collegial body of the government and chaired by Prime Minister Edi Rama.
On January 30, 2020, Parliament approved amendments to the law on the inspections of buildings, according to which the government will inspect buildings built more than 50 years ago – Article 4 (1). On January 31, the government declared Kombinat a development area and gave the Municipality of Tirana the right to:
a) construct new dwellings on damaged public buildings;
b) construct and reconstruct public and critical infrastructure;
c) realize constructions in this area;
ç) any other intervention in the function of the reconstruction of this area.
Thus, the combination of the Kombinat area redevelopment project and the post-earthquake reconstruction program could create grounds for abuse if the municipality of Tirana does not strictly implement transparency laws.