Istanbul municipality’s open pool ban cannot be implemented: Turkish Ministry

Istanbul municipality’s open pool ban cannot be implemented: Turkish Ministry

Aysel Alp – ANKARA
Istanbul municipality’s open pool ban cannot be implemented: Turkish Ministry

A ban on open pools cannot be implemented according to a high-level Environment and Urbanization Ministry official, who has commented on a series of new rules for the construction of housing projects in an Istanbul district.

The Zeytinburnu municipal council’s adoption of new regulations regarding future housing projects in the district, where pilot projects for urban transformation are being applied, has stirred debate, with opposing voices claiming the rules have been introduced “to impose certain lifestyles on people.”

According to the adoption of recent rules to fit the current construction regulations, open pools will not be allowed in housing projects in the district, while a masjid has become obligatory in all housing projects constructed on parcels bigger than 10,000 meters.

Another change foresees a limit on single-bedroom apartment units as they can be used for “inappropriate conduct.” According to the new regulations, the ratio of these units to all others will be kept at 15 percent.

Turkish authorities have been carrying out an operation against the daily renting of single-bedroom apartments in order to prevent prostitution.

Speaking to daily Hürriyet about the new rules, the ministry official, who wished to remain anonymous, said the decisions that have been adopted by the municipal council are arbitrary and against the current regulations.

“The construction regulations do not include any articles on banning open pools or enforcing building masjids. In fact, there are articles stating municipal councils cannot adopt decisions concerning them,” the official said on Dec. 8, adding that there is no limit on the number of single-bedroom apartment units.

“Within the boundaries of the structuring rights given by the construction plan, it is possible to build apartments without any limits on the number of bedrooms,” he added.

Saying the ministry will follow developments on the issue, the official noted that those who suffer from these decisions, including architects and contractors, can seek a legal solution.

Another official to slam the new rules was Chamber of Architects head Eyüp Muhcu, who has said the Zeytinburnu Municipality’s decisions openly violate the current rules and regulations.

“The Environment and Urbanization Ministry should annul these decisions. Otherwise, the existing open pools in the housing estates in Zeytinburnu may also become banned. Even though they have construction licenses, they may be ordered to be closed in light of the municipal council’s decision when an application is made for the pool’s maintenance or repair works. In this case, these open pools can be regarded as unlicensed,” Muhcu said, adding that the mindset behind these decisions is “outdated.”

“We will apply to the regional administrative court for the cancellation of these decisions,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Zeytinburnu Municipality defended its decisions by saying it was what the residents of the district had demanded.

In a statement released on social media, the municipality said authorities had received complaints about single-bedroom apartments “because of the negative events that had taken place in them.”

It also said open pools are only used for three months and thus “could be transformed into green areas.”

“With the new decisions, masjids have been saved from the underground and the door has been opened for them to be built in a way that needs are met,” it added.