A great public outcry was caused by the alleged planned destruction of about 30 hectares of forest and green spaces in Košutnjak, which is considered by many to be the ‘lungs of Belgrade’. While many citizens and civic sector representatives object to the urban development of Košutnjak and the construction of a commercial-residential complex in what used to be Avala Film, the investor Avala Studios said for Kurir that ‘the public has been under a false impression that the project is to be implemented in the Košutnjak park public space,’ and that cutting down 30 hectares of forest was not planned at all.
The Topčiderska River
The Avala Film Park project, implemented by the company Avala Studios, envisages revitalizing the old film studios and building new ones, as well as developing the Serbian film industry. However, many locals are unhappy that, in addition to investing in film studios, the detailed site plan survey for the Avala Film complex includes, as they point out, the construction of a commercial-residential complex taking up about 650,000 square meters in the park area 86.8 hectares in size.
Professor Ratko Ristić, Dean of the Faculty of Forestry, said for Kurir that the removal of the forest has many consequences.
‘Removing the forest and other green spaces in the urbanized parts of Belgrade results in increased emissions of greenhouse gases, reduced oxygen production, intensified ‘heat island’ effect, the degradation of biodiversity, dehumanization of the urban space, as well as a greater likelihood of torrential floods, especially in the Topčiderska River basin and the adjacent, smaller streams,’ Ristić warned.
On the other hand, Avala Studios said for Kurir that, in addition to investments in studios, ‘a comprehensive landscaping’ is planned ‘of the currently derelict and mostly impassable area between the Kneza Višeslava and Miloja Zakića streets,’ located on the far side of Košutnjak, on the slope leading down to Cerak.
A total of 70 hectares
‘Belgraders should know that their favourite picnic area, the forest of Košutnjak, the jogging track and the ski run, as well as the sledding space, have nothing to do with our project, and that nothing will be built in this area. Together with the public utility company Zelenilo (Greenery Belgrade), we are preparing a project that includes the analysis and inventory of the vegetation in the area designated for Avala Film Park, and we will move forward based on this analysis. What we know for sure is that within our 40 hectares, we wish to preserve the valuable portion of the forest in full,’ Avala Studios said, adding that, even though the project is still in the planning stage, they ‘will go on record’ saying that they would not cut down 30 hectares of forest, and that that was never their intention.
We did not receive the answers to the questions we put to the Secretariat for Urban Planning and Construction of Belgrade.
The plan being considered
Property relations being regulated
The Detailed Site Plan for the Avala Film complex has not yet been taken under consideration. The preliminary public review of the survey was finished on 13 July. The plan covers 86 hectares, and the portion currently used by Avala Studios stands at about 40 hectares.
‘The area covered by the plan prepared by the Urban Development Institute had not been regulated. This is where the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, the Radio Television of Serbia, an Orthodox church, the Cinematheque, and other public institutions are located. The Urban Development Institute has proposed that the area covered by the plan is defined with the aim of regulating all the legal property relations, in order to specify such a purpose as would be in the interest of all the citizens of Belgrade and the city itself. This proposal has been accepted,’ Avala Studios said.
Kurir.rs / Ružica Kantar