Vol. 4 No.3  

Battle for the metropolis

Joined-up development between Bucharest and its surrounding counties is a necessity for the long term health of the capital, its people and investors.
One solution is the Metropolitan Area of Bucharest project.
But many local authorities are against this move, finds Ana Maria Nitoi
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Bucharest is growing at a chaotic rate with an uncoordinated development between the city and county of Ilfov, which is harming the quality of life of the citizens in
Bucharest and undermining long-term investments.
Since 2000, heavy traffic has choked every neighbourhood of Bucharest. That is due to bad metropolitan organisation. The central business district has shifted to the north of the city, while most state institutions are located in the centre. There is a massive exodus to the north from all corners of the city during the morning, and a steady rush towards the centre at all times of the day. Because Bucharest lacks a wide enough ring road to connect the six sectors and suburbs, there are no alternatives to travel other than through the centre. This means four-hour daily commutes, working hours lost and a diminished quality of life and labour.
There are fewer green spaces inside and outside the city because developers in real estate can construct anywhere they like due to the lack of consistent regulation of green spaces and no height restrictions on construction. There is also an absence of public debate on the impact of new developments on their neighbouring areas in and around the city.
Bucharest is also one of the most polluted European capitals, as well as the densest capital in the EU. Pollution is due to the heavy traffic and the few green areas surrounding the city. There is no ‘green belt’ around Bucharest which developers respect.
“We can imagine the toxic gases in the atmosphere, the pollution, as a grey mushroom suspended above the city,” says Mariana Nica, expert at the Centre for Urban and Metropolitan Planning (CPUMP) in the City Hall of Bucharest. “During the day, as everyone goes to the centre, the mushroom comes closer to the earth, but during night this expands to the outskirts of the city and the exchange of dirty air with clean oxygenated air can take place if there are green areas and forests near Bucharest.”

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