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The former airport of Hellinikon and the coastal front of Ag.Kosmas, Greece


Description:

The former international airport of Hellinikon is located in the southern coastal zone of Attica and was in operation till 2001. The idea of creating a metropolitan park in the area was first initiated in 1995 , following the ratification of the contract for the construction and operation of the new airport at Spata in eastern Attica (El. Venizelos). In 1996 a research project for the creation of the park started. Although, it was never completed, as in 1997 Greece undertook the organization of Olympic Games and several sport facilities were created there. Although, all government responsible declared that the buildings were provisional and the area would be a park. Nevertheless, in December 2003, the Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Public Works (now renamed to Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change (YPEKA)) launched an international architectural competition for the creation of a metropolitan park as well as the development of the area, comprising business buildings, residences, restaurants, etc. In 2007 the Minister presented a proposal for the area with business buildings, malls and residences of 130 HA.

At that time, the 4 municipalities adjoined to the former airport (Alimos, Hellinikon, Argyroupoli, Glyfada) started coordinated action in order to stop the privatization and development of the area and asked for a park, as the first plans foresaw. The Local Union of Municipalities of Attica assigned to the Urban Environment Laboratory, School of Architecture, NTUA, the elaboration of a research project entitled “Basic plan principles for a Metropolitan Park at the former airport of Hellinikon”. The results of the project were presented in 2011 documenting the reasons for which a metropolitan park is needed. According to the project, the creation of the park is feasible and not expensive. The short and long term steps for a park, comprising athletic and cultural infrastructure, are also presented [2].

In September 2010 the government announced its intention to proceed to the divestiture of the former airport in Hellinikon to an investment company from the Emirate of Qatar, a plan that was soon abandoned. The financial crisis and the memorandum with Troika brought new legislations for the privatization of commons and the area of the airport was comprised in this process in order to bring investments to Greece [3].

Following that, in March 2011 a broad civil society movement (named Struggle Committee for the Metropolitan Park) from all over Attica region was formulated, fighting for the creation of a metropolitan park [4]. Many activities, such as tree planting, concerts, festivals, discussions etc., took place in the area of the former airport, demonstrating the willingness of the residents to have a green park in the area. At the same time, demonstrations were held in Athens and the Committee participated in marches organized for other purposes. Furthermore, civil society groups use the existing premises of the former airport for social activities.

Ιn February 2012 YPEKA brings a law for Hellinikon, which creates a flexible framework of building regulations and land uses (it augments the built-surface ratio, allows the building of the coastal zone and severe interventions that would change the landscape, allows the creation of golf courses, etc.), as well as flexible procedures for the implementation of the investment plan. As the Struggle Committee noted, the only goal is to safeguard the interests of the future investors [5].

Although the Parliament’s Scientific Council ruled the law as unconstitutional, the government proceeded to the ratification and started searching for international investors [6, 7].

In June 2012, residents from the municipalities close to Hellinikon filed an action before the Council of State against the Joined Ministerial Decision with which the former airport was granted to Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED) in order to sell it to private investors [8].

Another action was filed before the Council of State against the Joined Ministerial Decision with which the coastal zone and the sport facilities were given to TAIPED [9].

In April 2012, 9 international investment groups manifested their interest, but only 4 of them passed in the second phase in January 2013. Finally, in February 2014, only one offer was submitted by Lamda Development, a Greek company, having ameliorated its first offer and in November the contract was signed [10], despite the fact that the amount agreed is considered to be very low. In October 2014, the Technical Chamber of Greece publicized the “Feasibility Study Assessment of the Investment Value of Metropolitan Pole of Hellinicon – Agios Cosmas”, underlying that the nominal value for the whole area is calculated in $34,184,617,255 and not $1.1 million, amount that LAMDA Development has to grant [11].

The contract has to be ratified by the Greek parliament and the Court of Auditors’ ruling is not yet publicized. [12, 13].

Actually, Lamda Development announced the beginning of the project, but no works have taken place so far. The Struggle Committee continues its struggle against the development of the site and demands the creation of a public metropolitan park, while all civil society’s activities hosted in the former airport go on.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:The former airport of Hellinikon and the coastal front of Ag.Kosmas, Greece
Country:Greece
State or province:Region of Attica
Location of conflict:Municipality of Hellinikon-Argyroupolis
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Urban development conflicts
Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific commodities:Land
Tourism services
Urban open spaces; Green urban spaces

Project Details and Actors

Project details

370 ΗΑ of new constructions (hotels, golf courses, shopping malls, marinas, theme parks, museums, casinos, offices, thousands of luxurious residences); demolition of more than 36 HA of buildings in the site, which are either currently used or can be reused in the future; 200 HA of park; construction of large-scale infrastructure projects, such as urban highways and electrical power stations [14, 15]

Project area:530 hectares (the total area of the former Airport) 97,6 hectares (urban waterfront) [1]
Level of Investment:8,7 billion $ estimated level of investment according to the company [14] 1,1 million $ is the amount the company gave for exploiting the area for 99 years [16]
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:51,356 (Municipality of Hellinikon-Argyroupoli) 3,812,330 (Region of Attica)
Start of the conflict:18/01/2008
Company names or state enterprises:LAMDA Development S.A. (LAMDA Development ) from Greece - Investor
Relevant government actors:Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED); HELLINIKON S.A.; Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change; Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:5 civil society movements for the protection of the environment in Attica region; 31 organizations and civil society movements from all over Greece; 36 municipal parties; 5 political parties and organizations. For the full list please visit: http://parkoellinikou.blogspot.gr/2011/03/hellinikon-airport-is-not-for-sale.html#more (in Greek)
Members from the International Union of Architects as well as international organizations. For the full list please visit: http://parkoellinikou.blogspot.gr/2014/03/blog-post_20.html

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil erosion
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood

Outcome

Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Land demarcation
Court decision (undecided)
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Development of alternatives:The research project “Basic plan principles for a Metropolitan Park at the former airport of Hellinikon” elaborated by the Urban Environment Laboratory of the School of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens, foresees the creation of 599.5 ha of open green spaces and the reuse of 241 out of 480 existing buildings (e.g. 36.6 ha out of 49.1 ha of existing buildings). In addition to this, no more buildings are permitted and the park will be in direct connection with the coastal zone. The basic principles of the project are the upgrade and extension of the network of open public spaces and green spaces across Attica and the creation of new ones, the reuse of the existing buildings and the creation of a metropolitan cultural, recreational, educational and research facilities center, accessible to all the inhabitants and visitors of Attica, the protection of antiquities, monuments and buildings of special architectural or historical importance, etc. The goal is also to create an indispensable ecological unit by connecting Imittos Mountain and the waterfront of Saronikos [17, 18].
Actually, several activities and civil society organizations are hosted in the existing premises, such as the Metropolitan Community Clinic. It provides free primary medical care and medication to all uninsured, unemployed and needy patients regardless of who they are or where they come from. It’s a volunteer run community clinic that started in 2011. Today more than 200 volunteers participate, including doctors, dentists, pharmacists, therapists and support staff. More than 100 patients are treated per day. Moreover, MCCH provides psychological support to the unemployed, as well as baby food and other basic baby needs, all free of charge. All medicine and various items are donations from fellow citizens with the urge to stand by those in need during the economic crisis that we are all going through. [19]
Furthermore, in the area of the former airport the “Self-managed farm of Hellinikο" is located. Basic principle of the community is the alternative, social and solidarity economy. The farm has been created by a group of citizens as a collective effort against the financial crisis. In addition, the group took the initiative for the creation of an olive grow and several voluntary tree plantings have already taken place with the participation of many citizens from the wider area of Attica [20].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Although the contract of the sell-out of the former airport to Lamda Development is signed, the contract is not yet ratified by the Greek parliament and no works have taken place yet. Furthermore, the ruling from the Court of Auditors is expected (the hearing took place in January 7th, 2015). There is a strong opposition, as the processes followed are very problematic and unclear and the overall procedure has many elements of corruption [16, 21].
The Struggle Committee for the Metropolitan Park, as well as other initiatives and groups active in the area of the former airport continue their activities and the struggle for the creation of a park, as this is vital for the densely populated area of Attica.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Law 4062/2012: "Project development of the former airport of Hellinikon – Project Ilios – Promotion of the use of Renewable Energy Sources (integration of the EC Directive 2009/28/EC) – Sustainability criteria for biofuels and bioliquids (integration of the EC Directive 2009/30/EC)"

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Urban Environment Laboratory, NTUA, 2011, Metropolitan Park in the Former Airport of Hellinikon, Full project texts and Appendixes
http://courses.arch.ntua.gr/elliniko.html

[11] Technical Chamber of Greece, 2014, “Feasibility Study Assessment of the Investment Value of Metropolitan Pole of Hellinicon – Agios Cosmas”,
http://www.tovima.gr/files/1/2014/10/30/%CE%9C%CE%B5%CE%BB%CE%AD%CF%84%CE%B7%20%CE%A4%CE%95%CE%95%20%CE%95%CE%BB%CE%BB%CE%B7%CE%BD%CE%B9%CE%BA%CF%8C.pdf

[1] Urban Environment Laboratory, National Technical University of Athens, 2010, Basic concepts of Hellinikon Metropolitan Park in the former International Airport of Athens
http://www.elliniko-argyroupoli.gr/uplds/file/TEDKNA_2010_Elliniko_Mitropolitiko%20Parko%20Prasinou_Sinopsi.pdf

[18] Urban Environment Laboratory, NTUA, 2011, Basic planning & design principles for the creation of the Metropolitan Green Park at the former Hellinikon International Airport of Athens” - Summary of research findings and key proposal points
http://courses.arch.ntua.gr/fsr/135951/NTUA_2010_Hellinikon_Metropolitan_Park_Summary_En.pdf

Simantke Elisa, 2014, Europoly, Privatization under the Troica, The Mayfair – The multi Billion Euro deal with Athens’ Former Airport , Tagesspiegel,
http://europoly.tagesspiegel.de/english/

[3] Struggle Committee for the Metropolitan Park, 2011, Open letter to the ambassador of Qatar
http://parkoellinikou.blogspot.gr/2011/03/3.html

[4] Struggle Committee for the Metropolitan Park, 2011, Struggle Committee’s Declaration
http://parkoellinikou.blogspot.gr/search/label/%CE%94%CE%B9%CE%B1%CE%BA%CF%8D%CF%81%CE%B7%CE%BE%CE%B7%20%CE%95%CF%80%CE%B9%CF%84%CF%81%CE%BF%CF%80%CE%AE%CF%82%20%CE%91%CE%B3%CF%8E%CE%BD%CE%B1

[10] Totsikas Panos, 2014, In a critical spot the scandal of Hellinikon
http://parkoellinikou.blogspot.gr/2014/11/blog-post.html#more

[12] Struggle Committee for the Metropolitan Park, 2014, Statement for the attempted sell out of Hellinikon
http://parkoellinikou.blogspot.gr/2014/11/blog-post_15.html

[17] City of Hellinikon – Argyroupoli, 2013, Former Airport of Hellinikon & Aghios Kosmas Waterfrona, the present and the future of a Metropolitan Park for Athens, Symposium Brochure

[19] Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko (MCCH), 2014
http://www.mkiellinikou.org/en/

[21] Vatikiotis Leonidas, 2014, Do it as Latsis, 36, Magazine Unfollow

[2] Adamopoulos K., 2011, Hellinikon: a history of populism, hypocrisy and divestiture. Will we allow its completion?
http://parkoellinikou.blogspot.gr/2011/03/blog-post_20.html

[5] Struggle Committee for the Metropolitan Park, 2012, The plan for the saleout of Hellinikon
http://parkoellinikou.blogspot.gr/2012/02/blog-post.html

[6] Struggle Committee for the Metropolitan Park, 2012, They start a roadshow for the divestiture and building up of Hellinikon
http://parkoellinikou.blogspot.gr/2012/02/blog-post_21.html

[7] Struggle Committee for the Metropolitan Park, 2012, Unconstitutional the regulation for Hellinikon, but ...
http://parkoellinikou.blogspot.gr/2012/03/blog-post_27.html

[8] Struggle Committee for the Metropolitan Park, 2012, Citizens seized to the Council of State against the “sell-out” of Hellinikon
http://parkoellinikou.blogspot.gr/2012/06/blog-post_26.html

[9] Struggle Committee for the Metropolitan Park, 2012, New action before the Council of State for Hellinikon
http://parkoellinikou.blogspot.gr/2013/03/blog-post.html

[15] City of Hellinikon – Argyroupoli, 2014, The site of Hellinikon in Athens: development for whom?
http://www.elliniko-argyroupoli.gr/article.php?id=2569

[16] Tsakanikas N., 2014, Billion euros businesses in the Attica region coastal zone, 35, Magazine Unfollow

[20] Self-managed farm of Hellenikο, 2014
http://agroselliniko.blogspot.gr

Struggle Committee for the Metropolitan Park, 2014, Petition: Hellinikon is not for sale! Metropolitan Park now!
https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/To_the_Greek_Government_ELLINIKO_IS_NOT_FOR_SALE_METROPOLITAN_PARK_NOW_1/

[13] Karamanoli E., 2014, Tension in the Court of Auditors during the hearing for the case of Hellinikon, Euro2day.gr
http://www.euro2day.gr/news/economy/article/1291249/entash-sto-elegktiko-synedrio-gia-thn-ypothesh-toy.html

[14] Lamda Development, 2014, Hellinikon project
http://www.lamdadev.com/online/Projects.aspx?MenuCategId=244&MenuModuleID=72&MenuModuleTable=Real_Company&LevelNo=1&PageCounts=1

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Demonstration in TAIPED, 17 of April 2012
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyXNwMM2P7I

Video from the 1st of Mai 2012 participation in the demo in Athens
http://parkoellinikou.blogspot.gr/2012/05/blog-post_8948.html

Video from the 1st festival, Mai 2011
http://parkoellinikou.blogspot.gr/2011/05/blog-post_24.html

Video from concert in September 2011
http://parkoellinikou.blogspot.gr/2011/05/blog-post_24.html

Meta information

Contributor:Ermioni Frezouli, Geography Department - Harokopio University Athens (HUA).
Last update18/08/2019

Images

 

Demonstration in Athens 1st may 2011

 

Poster for Hellinikon - Ag. Kosmas Metropolitan Park

 

Information event in the Municipality of Ilioupoli, April 11

 

)live trees' planting in the former airport, March 12

 

1st festival poster (2011)

 

Poster with the basic concepts of Hellinikon Metropolitan Park in the former International Airport of Athens

 

Visual arts exchibition in Hellinikon, September 2011

 

Demonstration in TAIPED premises, April 12

premisses