The Turkish Council of State has ruled that the OnaltiDokuz Residence, a trio of towers between 27 and 37 stories tall in Istanbul's Zeytinburnu district, must be demolished in a landmark ruling that could have major ramifications for the country's planning system.
As reported by Oliver Wainwright in the Guardian, the Turkish Council of State ruled that the development "negatively affected the world heritage site that the Turkish government was obliged to protect," possibly in reaction to comments made by UNESCO in 2010, who threatened to put the city on its list of endangered world heritage sites.
Read on after the break for more on the ruling
However, beyond the demolition ruling itself, the OnaltiDokuz case has focused attention on the mechanisms of Istanbul's building boom, after the land which was originally zoned for a maximum height of 5 stories was immediately rezoned by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality after it sold the site to the developer.
The ruling has also garnered further criticism for Turkish president-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Already under fire for his proposal to destroy Gezi Park in favor of a shopping mall, sparking widespread protests across Turkey in the past year, Erdogan has denounced high-rise development and publicly claimed not to have known about the OnaltiDokuz designs. However former culture minister Ertugrul Günay questioned this claim, saying "He is personally keeping track of giant construction projects all over the country. High-rises in Istanbul can only be done with his permission."
The demolition ruling also puts the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality at risk of an astronomical compensation claim, given that the development is not only complete, but all of the apartments have already been sold. Cihat Gökdemir, the lawyer who worked on the case for the Council of State, has proposed that this compensation be recouped from the individual council members who originally approved the buildings, saying he "will sue them for squandering public funds."
Whatever the outcome of this particular ruling, it will likely lead to more questioning of construction in the Turkish capital. As Wainwright notes, "it is a landmark ruling, but not one that helps to clarify the legal situation of Istanbul’s unstoppable building boom in the slightest."
Story via the Guardian