Turkey’s top court annuls land sales on Istanbul’s coast as construction nears end

Turkey’s top court annuls land sales on Istanbul’s coast as construction nears end

Ömer Erbil – ISTANBUL
Turkey’s top court annuls land sales on Istanbul’s coast as construction nears end The Council of State has reversed a previous ruling permitting the Housing Development Organization (TOKİ) to sell land along the coastal shore of Istanbul’s Bakırköy district even as the construction of five 16-story buildings nears completion. 

The annulment came more than five years after TOKİ put 77,000 square meters of land, consisting of 564 building blocks and 161 plots, up for tender on Aug. 31, 2010. 

While a joint venture by Özyazıcı Construction and Karadeniz Örme won the 447 million-Turkish Lira ($151 million) tender, the Ataköy 1st Section Protection and Beautification Association brought a suit against the purchase at the Istanbul 4th Administrative Tribunal. 

The association argued that the selling of the land, which was a green space at the time, would lead to more concrete that would be against the public interest. Turkish coastal legislation prioritizes the public interest in the utilization of the sea coast, lake shores and river banks. 

However, the court dismissed the case based on merit, arguing that the selling of the land was a “natural consequence” of the right to property and denying a causal relationship between the purchase and the growth in concrete sprawl. 

After the plaintiff appealed to the Council of State, the case was sent back and forth between the council, which ruled for the tribunal to accept the case, and the 4th Administrative Tribunal which insisted on its initial decision. 

The case was finally brought to the Plenary Session of Administrative Law Divisions of the Council of State, which ruled in favor of the association, arguing that there was merit because the plaintiff had an interest in the issue. 

“Since it is clear that the defendant’s estate, which is a green space, will be open to construction and that this new situation will have an impact on the region in terms of its environment and zoning status, it has been established that the plaintiff has an interest in the case. Hence, the decision to dismiss the case based on merit is legally inaccurate,” it said. 

Following the decision, the case was re-sent to the 4th Administrative Court. The tribunal is set to determine whether the public interest was considered before the area was put up for tender, whether the area is a green space, and whether there is a risk of concrete sprawl. 

The decision comes at a time when five residences, each 16 stories high, were already built on the plot of land. According to reports, the condos have already been sold to their new owners. As such, expert witnesses will have to reach a conclusion on the aforementioned questions based on archived photographs.