Urban transformation in Black Sea region’s ‘green haven’ to kick off by end of this year
An urban transformation process, run by the state-owned Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ), will begin in the idyllic Ayder Plateau located in the Çamlıhemşin district of the Black Sea province of Rize by the end of this year, the local governor has announced.
“Ayder will resemble a small town with the purpose of a plateau, of which there are not many examples of in our country. We are hopeful about the [urban transformation] project, but this is not a solution by itself [to undo the wreckage in the plateau]. The [construction] density in the current area needs to be spread to other areas,” Rize governor Erdoğan Bektaş has told daily Hürriyet.
The Ayder Plateau attracts thousands of tourists every year due to its natural beauty, but increasing unlicensed construction in the area in recent years has sacrificed nature to concrete and damaged the infrastructure, which prompted the authorities to initiate a transformation project.
The new project gives licenses to at most two-floor high constructions. It has also designated the location of car parks, hotel and lodges, viewing platforms, recreation spaces and camping areas.
In a bid to tackle transportation problems, the project foresees the construction of a new two-way road leading to the plateau. The number of vehicles entering the plateau will also be limited.
The plateau was initially declared a tourism center in 1987 and was declared a natural protected zone in 1998. It was later declared a “Culture and Tourism Protection Development Region” in 2006 with a cabinet decision.
Following the construction of hundreds of structures in the area, 260 out of 290 construction projects were taken to court in 2014, with the court ruling for the demolition of 158 of them for not having a license.
However, the demolitions did not take place, as no firms participated in the tenders for their demolition.
In a speech back in 2017, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said “we have dirtied and wrecked Ayder.” Upon an order by the president, five ministries have prepared a transformation project under the guidance of TOKİ, upon consultations with locals. TOKİ aims to demolish illegal buildings in the plateau and implement a tourism plan.
Çamlıhemşin mayor Osman Haşimoğlu previously described the plateau as a “tourism locomotive” of the region, saying that “without the Ayder Plateau there would be no tourism in the region.”