Istanbul municipality’s pool ban for housing projects stirs debate

Istanbul municipality’s pool ban for housing projects stirs debate

Fatma Aksu – ISTANBUL
Istanbul municipality’s pool ban for housing projects stirs debate

A municipality in Istanbul has stirred debate after introducing new rules for the construction of housing projects, including a ban on open pools.

The municipal council of Istanbul’s Zeytinburnu has adopted new regulations regarding future housing projects in the district, where pilot projects for urban transformation are being applied.

According to the recent rules that have been introduced for the current construction plan from Dec. 6, 2007 to fit this year’s plan, open pools will not be allowed in housing projects in the district.

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.

The new construction plan also enforces building a masjid in all housing projects constructed on parcels bigger than 10,000 meters. According to the plan, the masjids will be separate from the buildings.

Meanwhile, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) members of the municipal council slammed the approval of the changes, which they had voted against.

Speaking ahead of the voting process, Esin Hacıalioğlu, who is a member of both the Zeytinburnu Construction Commission and a CHP member of the Istanbul Municipal Council, described the changes as “sharia planning,” while asking for the decision to be retracted.

“With the new planning notes, new methods are being attempted in order to impose certain lifestyles on people. These plans have no relation to contemporary buildings,” Hacıalioğlu told daily Hürriyet on Dec. 7.

She also questioned the reason for the ban of open pools.

“What is the meaning of banning open pools? Why has this ban been introduced? A major drawback of Zeytinburnu is the inability to benefit from the sea, even though it’s a coastal district. You are banning open pools in a district that cannot benefit from the sea and you do not clarify your motives when asked,” she also said.

“This understanding of [housing] planning is a total comedy,” said Hacıalioğlu, criticizing the 15 percent quota on single-bedroom apartments.

“They will only allow up to 15 percent of the apartment units constructed to be single-bedroom units due to ‘inappropriate’ lifestyles. Is a sin ‘haram’ when it’s above 15 percent and ‘halal’ when it’s below it? Such an understanding of planning is unacceptable. This is a total comedy,” she added.