The Avala Film Park project, implemented by the company Avala Studios, consists of the construction of state-of-the-art film studios and a commercial-residential complex, envisaged to cover several hundred thousand square meters. Kurir has already reported on this, and the citizens of Belgrade living in the vicinity are divided on the issue. While some think that this part of the capital is ‘the lungs of Belgrade’ and that additional urban development of the area is harmful, others are of the opinion that the construction is not bad in and of itself, but that the project should fit in with the natural environment, preserving the forest and the green spaces.
The retiree Dušanka Lucić said for Kurir that she had been living in Žarkovo for over 40 years, and that she thinks that Belgrade should be proud of this city area, as it is a veritable oasis in an overcrowded capital.
‘People from all over the place will be coming into the apartments whose construction is planned, and those of us living our whole lives here have no say in the matter. Where would all these people fit? How will the existing transport infrastructure cope? What will we have to demolish for this to be possible? Will new roads be built as well?’ wonders this Žarkovo resident, adding that, regardless of whether the clearcutting is planned or not, the mass construction and increasing population of this city area will surely impact on air quality.
Lena Stojanović says that there is much that the public still does not know regarding this project, but that one thing is for sure – we have to protect the little forests and green spaces that we have in Belgrade.
‘These are the lungs of Belgrade, and urbanization will surely affect air quality. Also, it’s unclear what will be privatized and what will remain state-owned, and what the citizens, some of whom will be coming from the city centre, would be able to use. Animals live here too… And it’s uncertain how far this would go, and what will prevent others from continuing to cut down trees and populate Košutnjak,’ she said.
On the other hand, Jasmina Vasiljević doesn’t see anything bad in landscaping an area that has not been landscaped before, if it is true that the forest would not be cut down. ‘If it’s true that there are ruins in the area, then it’s not bad in and of itself. Ruins are no good to anyone, the area needs to be made beautiful and ready for use by landscaping. Urbanization isn’t bad in and of itself, if it is carried out according to a project that makes sense, and if no forests are cut down.’ Peter Dajko, CEO of Avala Studios, said yesterday in a statement that the forest located in the area used by them would not be cut down, and that once the tracks and benches are built, all Belgraders would be able to enjoy ‘this new oasis’. He repeated that the area in which Avala Studios is located is not part of the Košutnjak park.
Wetland and mosquitos
‘As a result of decades of neglect, the area stretching from the Kneza Višeslava Street downhill towards Cerak and Žarkovo is in a state of serious disrepair. The Radio Television of Serbia, Cinematheque, Avala Film, and fire brigade buildings were constructed there a long time ago. There is even an illegal concrete batching plant polluting the environment for twenty odd years. The existing buildings are either dilapidated or in disrepair, and the bulk of the area is covered in weeds and undergrowth. Two large fens have been known to exist for a long time, as has a mosquito breeding site – a hotbed of potential disease. Only packs of stray dogs can be seen roaming most of the area.’
A great public outcry
An investment worth 600 million euros The Avala Film Park project has made more than 70,000 citizens sign a petition demanding that the clearcutting of about 30 hectares of forest in Košutnjak be prevented, and over 7,000 objections have been filed to the Detailed Site Plan Survey for the Avala Film complex in the park. Avala Studios plan to construct state-of-the-art film studios and a residential complex, a school, a nursery school, as well as sports facilities open to the public. As they point out, over 600 million euros will be invested in this project. Avala Studios has 40 hectares, and the detailed site plan covers 86 hectares, as determined by the City Urban Development Institute.
Kurir.rs/ Ružica Kantar Photo: Zorana Jevtić