Ufa architect advises ‘copying’ Kazan’s plan specifics

This would help to calm down the activists who fear “human hills” and deforestation

Tensions around Ufa’s site plan continue running high. Activists and public figures keep making a stand against the potential construction of “human hills” and deforestation. Realnoe Vremya still stays tuned for the situation and surveyed specialists of the sector. One of the experts gives a clear advice: to learn Kazan’s experience. Read more about it in our report.

“Almost any activity is prohibited on the territory of urban forests that have a fixed status”

Activists of the movement Our Courtyards continue the fight against Ufa’s new site plan, which is due to be adopted in 2022. As for novelties, they created a website where they express their remarks about the new site plan and published detailed instructions for citizens to participate in public discussions. They borrowed this idea from their colleagues from Yekaterinburg. Danil Kashapov from Our Courtyards enumerates what the activists aren’t happy with:

“We saw the experience of the lads from Yekaterinburg in the city’s site plan, they also created a website. We don’t like a lot of things: housing development of a part of the territory of the Nepeytsev Arboretum, the forest behind the Ak Yort skiing base, VDNKH exhibition centre, forests behind the botanic garden, the Koshkin Forest... We don’t like the road from Voronki Station, which has to cross the forest and the existing health path. Also, according to the new site plan, one of the greatest places of Ufa — the Hanging Stone — will be destroyed by the absolutely useless Zapadnoye Shosse highway.”

Realnoe Vremya turned to head of the Architecture and Planning Workshop No. 4 of the GenPlan Institute of Moscow Maxim Vikulin. Talking about the citizens’ complaints about the transformation of some recreation areas into other types of territories, he explained that this didn’t mean there would be housing development in these places:

“Almost any activity is prohibited on the territory of urban forests that have a fixed status. It is too fixed at times. It is hard to create just some infrastructure on this territory. If we are talking about the creation of some parks, urban forests impose such strict restrictions on us so that it is even tough to build a road, some service facilities there.”

Discussions began

The difficulty in the participation in the discussion of the site plan is another moment raising questions among the citizens. Though the authorities are actively urging the citizens to make their offers, not everybody manages to do this.

However, the issue was set in motion. After the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor’s Office supported the activists and the court recognised the changes had been made to the site plan illegally, more or less open discussions began. The first live stream of Ufa’s Architecture and Urban Engineering Office took place on YouTube a few days ago. Valerian Gagin, a deputy of the Ufa City Council moderated the talk, while Olga Sarapulova, vice head of the city’s architecture office, was the main speaker. During the first live talk, they spoke about landscaping and the recreational frame of the city. The chat was active and quite informative, and its participants answered questions sent in the chat.

However, this channel has 39 subscribers, while 832 people watched it. Meanwhile, the main channel of the urban administration has much more subscribers on other social media. This means there would be bigger coverage.

Activists are afraid of “human hills.” What does the site plan have to do here?

The activists think there is no sense in discussing the site plan without additional parameters, for instance, the number of storeys:

“The introduction of the functional ‘residential zone’ without the restriction on the height of the building is also one of the major drawbacks of the site plan. This means there can be built four and 33 storeys. However, social infrastructure is planned precisely in the site plan, and this can lead to a shortage of schools and kindergartens,” the activists say.

Public activists consider that the site plan should be corrected considering the limit on the number of floors in future blocks of flats and be mandatory. On the one hand, they can be understood, they are afraid Ufa will turn into a city of skyscrapers, three shifts in schools and classes with 40 students.

However, the site plan doesn’t regulate the number of floors in major construction facilities, it only outlines the borders of territories where housing can in general develop. The height of buildings and construction density are regulated by another document, which is the Land Use and Development Rules. For instance, Olga Sarapulova who participated in the online discussion reminds the audience about this.

“Another document needs to be adopted for this, something between the site plan and the planning project”

Architect, one of the authors of the project on the network of bicycle lanes Ufa Necklace Semyon Kucherov recommends learning Kazan’s experience. Master plans, development projects of separate territories regulating those delicate moments the site plan doesn’t regulate were presented together with the site plan in the Tatarstan capital.

“We see that the site plan doesn’t regulate everything. For instance, the green area is out of its control. The Ufa Necklace is not only a route but also an instrument to open these territories for citizens. I would put an example of Kazan. They created a development strategy of the Kazanka River, a 70-km long area. By offering this strategy, they managed even protect some areas from development and made the approach to riverside territory development eco-friendlier. But another document needs to be adopted for this, something between the site plan and the planning project,” Semyon Kucherov offers.

The architect notes that Ufa already has prerequisites for such a job. However, the creation of a master plan requires everybody’s clearly coordinated work:

“We started working with the locals, we are preparing terms of reference in the forest park on Zorge Street. The job on the master plan isn’t easy, it is necessary to meet with all participants in the territory and develop the terms of reference together. Then, an entire engineering institute usually develops master plans because a huge amount of research and work with the population, businesses and authorities is required there. The interests must come to an agreement.”

Earlier, the changes made to Ufa’s site plan without public discussions caused a great public outcry. The activists’ petitions sent to the regional Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor’s Office yielded fruit — both agencies supported the population. We will stay tuned for the events.

Emil Ziyangirov