Cities to get civilian look with urban transformation bill

May 17, 2012, Thursday/ 18:23:00/ ALİ ASLAN KILIÇ

A bill on transforming disaster-risk areas, aptly called the Urban Transformation Bill, will hand the renovation of buildings on military land to civilian authorities in a move that will enable the “demilitarization” of cities.

The bill, which was approved by Parliament on Thursday, paves the way for the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) to take over the job of fixing buildings on military land where necessary, as earlier requested by the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning. Real estate currently assigned to the military and the Ministry of Defense will be handed over to the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning following approval by the Ministry of Defense and a decision by the Cabinet. The Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning will renovate other public structures after seeking the opinion of related institutions utilizing the buildings concerned.

The bill aims to solve issues in Turkey’s 81 provinces concerning unplanned and uncontrolled urbanization and is expected to renew about 50 percent of buildings in Turkey as part of the plan to repair structures that are at risk in the event of a disaster.

Regulations are to be prepared by the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning in order to commence urban transformation across the country. The first task is to compile a list of structures considered at risk. Owners of these structures will be required to engage institutions, to be licensed by the ministry, and to carry out a risk assessment on their properties.

While compiling a list of at-risk structures the ministry is likely to ask building owners to obtain such an assessment. Should assessments not be conducted within a set period of time, the ministry will request municipalities or special provincial administrations to carry out inspections. Owners will have the right to appeal decisions concerning their property within 15 days.

If demanded by municipalities and TOKİ, the ministry will stop delivering electricity, water and natural gas services to the at-risk structures, after discussing the matter with the owners of concerned properties. The ministry will seek to reach an agreement with owners before taking action on subject property, and will provide owners with rent assistance in accordance with the agreement.

At least 60 days’ notice will be given to property owners to demolish dangerous buildings. If not demolished by owners, additional time will be given, and a notification issued stating that officials will carry out a demolition if owners fail to comply with the directive.

For structures requiring reinforcement rather than demolition, owners will be provided with loans from a fund created for urban transformation projects.

Legal action will be taken against those who obstruct urban transformation projects on concerned structures. Public officials charged with the process of urban transformation will be penalized should they fail to carry out their duties.

Shanty houses will not be demolished until their residents have found other accommodation or been allocated land on which to build houses.

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