Balat gets reprieve on renewal plan

Balat gets reprieve on renewal plan

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Balat gets reprieve on renewal plan

Istanbul’s Balat neighboud is one of the oldest districts in the city and overlooks the Golden Horn. The neighbourhood is faced with an urban transformation project. Hürriyet photo

A transformation project in Istanbul’s historic and predominantly Roma and Kurdish neighborhood of Balat was cancelled by Istanbul’s Fifth Administrative Court on the grounds of “harming the cultural pattern in the region.”After a five year struggle with the Fatih Municipality the case was resolved in locals favor.

Another project in Fatih district’s Sulukule area has also been stopped by a court after new villas were built in the neighborhood.

A representative of the Fener, Balat Cooperation Association, which brought the project to trial, said the ruling was “historic” and will be a sample for Turkey’s future urban-transformation projects.

“It is good that the justice did not come late as it did in Sulukule where residents were exiled from their houses. This did not happen in Balat, Fener and Ayvansaray,” said Çiğdem Şahin according to an article by daily Hürriyet.

Fatih Municipality will apply for an appeal to the council of state, the municipality’s Mayor Mustafa Demir said on June 20.

Sulukule Roma Association lawyer Hilal Küey said this step would be in vain since three different expertise reports found the municipality project unjust. “For both cases the verdicts are obvious, the municipality’s insistence will not help anyone. They will have to come up with a renewed project in one month after the cancellation which is not possible to complete,” Küey told the Hürriyet Daily News in a phone interview yesterday.

Many have criticized the Sulukule and Balat projects, saying they pushed out longstanding communities in the interest of building more upper-class dwellings.