No more construction in historic Moscow: mayor
Moscow's Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has announced a freeze on new construction in the capital's historic downtown area, in a sharp departure from his predecessor's policy.
In a speech that drew warm applause from preservation activists, Sobyanin said it was time to call a halt to the major construction projects which were a feature of Yury Luzhkov's long tenure as head of the Moscow municipality.
"The possibilities of extensive construction in Moscow have been exhausted," Sobyanin said on Friday at a meeting to discuss construction policies, Itar-TASS news agency reported.
"We have decided to limit, and de-facto forbid construction in central Moscow and finish over the next three years construction that has already begun."
Sobyanin, who replaced Luzhkov after the latter's dramatic fall from grace with the Kremlin last year, has hit the ground running by denouncing the previous mayor's policies in construction and transportation.
Moscow's preservation activists have battled Luzhkov's policies for years and accused him of encouraging the destruction of Moscow's heritage to make ways for new shopping centres and luxury apartment complexes.
They found more support with the new mayor, who promised to "bring order to the historic Moscow centre."
"We are very happy with this turn of events," Rustam Rakhmatullin, a member of Archnadzor arhitectural heritage group, told AFP, adding that the move should halt "hundreds" of projects.
Some of the projects that are currently under way were started illegally, and it would be reasonable to stop them as well, he said.
© 2011 AFP