In 2008 the Riga City Council City Development Department performed management over several significant urban projects, as well as continued improving services provided to the city residents.
Last year the 1st stage of the Mežaparks Large Open-Air Stage Reconstruction was completed and the 2nd stage of the project was elaborated. Within the framework of the first stage of the reconstruction, the Open-Air Stage buildings have been renovated – the required stability of the constructions has been provided, internal premises have been repaired, internal engineering communications have been replaced, new hydro- and heat insulation of steps for singers has been installed, in replacing the roof cover over the singers area, acoustic material has been used – aqua panels, acoustic panels have been installed on the side walls, a new symphonic orchestra pit has been built. Significant territory improvement works have been performed – new fencing around the open-air stage territory with new gates has been erected, a car park for the technological, special and VIP transport has been built, as well as a parking area for buses, driveways to these have been improved and lighting has been provided for the car parks and roads, new removable benches for spectators have been manufactured, facades of all buildings remaining on the open-air stage territory have been improved, some roofs have been replaced, the Green Theatre has been repaired. Besides, within the framework of the reconstruction, a new boiler house running on liquefied gas has been built, new heating mains and new fire water mains have been built, and the water and sewage systems have been tested and replaced where necessary.
The 1st stage of the Daugava South crossing – the so-called South Bridge – has been completed. The 1st stage of the project is located at the section from Bauskas iela on the Daugava left bank up to the Slāvu railway flyover on the right bank. The route is 2.5 km long and the 1st stage costs are LVL 85.5 million. Costs of the South Bridge are LVL 35.4 million. Costs per one square metre of the South Bridge are LVL 1,184 /sq.m. The route includes a part of the roads from Bauskas iela to the Daugava and from the elevated roads over Krasta iela and Maskavas iela up to the Slāvu railway flyover. The most significant engineering structures of the 1st stage are the South Bridge and the three-level elevated roads over Krasta iela and Maskavas iela. It is to be noted that these elevated roads are the first three-level transport structure in Latvia.
The Riga environs project has been elaborated. The aim of the project is by determining the environs to create preconditions for introduction of the balanced social, economic and spatial policy at the Riga city administrative territory.
A residential district, a housing estate or environs is a populated area of an appropriate size having its own maintenance, identity and nature, which result from the type of housing, physical boundaries, landscape and a sense of community of its residents.
The project conforms to the strategic goal of the Riga Development Programme for 2006 – 2012 – life in the city environment with qualitative residential districts (environs) – and to its subordinate tasks: to provide rational usage of the city territory in conformity with the sustainable development principles, to improve aesthetic and social environment quality of residential districts (environs), to develop multifunctional local centres subordinate to the existing city centre.
One of the goals of the project is to form public discussion on possibilities of developing residential districts or environs of Riga, promotion of the feeling of belonging to a certain city area, on facilitating participation and involvement of residents in the city planning processes, when working on the environs level, as well as the role of local governments and non-governmental organizations in the process of strengthening residential districts or environs. On 27 November 2008 the Riga Environs Forum arranged by the Riga City Council City Development Department in cooperation with non-governmental organizations was held.
Supervision over the European Union projects. In the middle of the last year the Riga EU financing portfolio, which includes the structural funds, the Cohesion Fund, the EEA and Norwegian bilateral financial instruments and other EU and EC funds, constituted approximately EUR 210 million. During the period of nine months of 2008, the Riga City Council confirmed its participation in 18 (in 2007 – 15 projects) projects for the total amount of EUR 54 million, of which EUR 16 million is co-financing. The largest EU financing under supervision of the City Development Department is granted to the Riga North Transport Corridor development project for the total amount of over EUR 100 million, of which EUR 90 million is from the Cohesion Fund financing and a little over EUR 10 million is from the EC programme T-NT financing. In general, the City Development Department provides supervision over all EU projects of the Riga City Council by monitoring them and assisting the Riga City Council structural units and institutions in preparation of applications and their promotion to receive financing, as well as in introduction of projects.
Development of the Riga North Transport Corridor Project is continuing – preliminary research and evaluation of effect on environment are being performed. The aim of the project is to relieve the Riga centre from the load created by transport, to improve efficiency of the transport system in Riga and the Riga region in general, to include the Riga Port into the European significance roads network and to increase competitiveness of Riga and Latvia.
As a result of the project implementation, a convenient express road will be built to crossing Riga in the western-eastern direction and to bypass the city historical centre. The road is planned to be about 27 – 30 km long. In the west, the North Corridor will be connected to the Riga – Jūrmala – Ventspils motorway at Priedaine and to the Riga detour road at Babīte, and in the east – to the Vidzeme šoseja in Berģi. The North Corridor will be integrated into the structure of Riga streets with the 10-12 multilevel crosses. The motorway will also cross the Daugava and will be the furthest northern crossing on the Daugava.
Preparation of the project was started in December 2005, construction is planned to be started in 2012 and finished in 2018.
The project is vitally important for the balanced development of the Riga city and region, as its implementation ensures significant optimization of traffic flow in Riga (saved time for crossing the city, lower costs for using transport, improvement of road safety), considerable improvement of the condition of air in the Riga historical centre, as well as reduction of the noise level and many other benefits.
The project is also very important both in the Latvian and the European Union context as the national infrastructure project, because its implementation will promote development of the Riga Port (increase of freight flows, due to the port’s new connection to the state motor road network, and the resulting economic benefits); attraction of foreign investments for business activities (the improved infrastructure will promote establishment of new productions); growth of economic activity of the entire state (with development of business activities, new jobs will be created and additional tax incomes will be ensured). Further information about the project can be found on www.ziemelukoridors.lv .
Work at the Administrative Centre project is continuing. The Riga Territory Planning for 2006 – 2018 anticipates extension of the Riga centre to the Daugava left bank in Torņakalns, where the Riga City Council plans to implement the project New Riga Centre in Torņakalns at the territory with the area of over 45 ha. This area will accommodate all Departments of the Riga City Council, various local government and state institutions, in order to increase efficiency of the local government operation and to reduce costs, which directly (transport costs, telephone communication costs, etc.) or indirectly (time spent by employees for travelling, inconvenient communication between employees, information flow between the departments, etc.) occur due to location of the Departments in different places.
Simultaneously, the new Torņakalns region is anticipated to be provided with the improved and publicly accessible areas, parks, bicycle lanes, residential and office premises, as well as the landscaped embankment of the Mārupīte. When implementing the project, another Bus Station will be arranged on the Daugava left bank and a new network of streets connecting Vienības Gatve with Raņķa Dambis will be built. Negotiations with the University of Latvia on accommodation of its Faculties and a hotel in Torņakalns are continuing. Currently, the territorial geological research is being performed and elaboration of the technical and economic justification for subsequent construction of engineering infrastructure at this territory. EU funding is anticipated to be attracted for construction of the engineering infrastructure.
The City Development Department has elaborated ten e-services, which allow any interested person to find relevant information quickly and easily, as well as receiving a specialist’s consultation or coordinating documents from anywhere, as it is, for instance, in case of the advertising and signboards coordination e-service. The aim of elaborating e-services is to provide precise, fast accessible and true information to any interested person. The following e-services are available on the City Development Department home page www.rdpad.lv: co-ordination of advertising and signboards, preparing a reference about perspective use of the plots of land in accordance with the Riga City Development Plan 2006 – 2018, as well as the public discussions search, the construction preliminary plans search, the construction projects search, the construction permissions search, the cultural monuments search, calculation of construction fee and of advertising fee.
New Binding Regulations On Local Government Fees for Upkeep and Development of Infrastructure in the City of Riga have been Adopted. In December 2008 the Riga City Council adopted new binding regulations On Local Government Fees for Upkeep and Development of Infrastructure in the City of Riga and the special budget programme regulation The Riga City Infrastructure Fund.
The infrastructure payment in Riga will not exceed 5% of the object construction costs. There is also a different calculation formula established for new constructions and reconstructed objects.
Payment is anticipated to be made twice – prior to receiving the construction permission in the amount of 60% and prior to commissioning the object in the amount of 40%.
To cover against direct influence of the infrastructure payment on the inflation rate in the country, the new calculation formula is anticipated to include the CPI (consumer price index) coefficient, which will change the payment amount depending on inflation/deflation in the country. It just means that, in case of deflation, the final payment amount will decrease and the payment as such will not influence the total inflation index in the state.
The transitional period of 2-3 years is planned to be determined for full application of this payment, thereto, preparation of annual public reports on the paid and used amounts is anticipated, thus, securing transparency of the cash flow.
During the period up to 31 December 2009 the payment of 30% from the total payment amount is planned to be applied, in 2010 – of 50%, in 2011 – of 75%, and starting with 1 January 2012 – the full or 100% amount.
The infrastructure payment improvements prepared by the City Development Department envisage a positive effect, which can be reflected in providing partial financing for a number of important infrastructural projects for further development of the city, thus excluding a situation, when, in order to build an important infrastructural object in the city, it is required only to borrow funds.
In 2008 the City Development Department, in cooperation with other structural units and institutions of the Riga City Council, prepared the first monitoring system report for 2006 – 2007 for the Riga Long-Term Development Strategy up to 2025 and the Riga Development Programme for 2006 – 2112. Main emphasis in the report is laid on analysis of strategic goals of Riga local municipality, which include description of the goal, opinion of residents, summary of the Riga local government activities within the framework of the goal, summary of the resulting indices characterising the goal in the time section, summary on performing the goal, evaluation of experts from different industries on activities performed by the local government and proposals for further activities within the framework of the goal, as well as the link of the goal with the national policy planning documents and the European Union funds programmes.
The report shows how and to what extent the city is moving towards the long-term goals put forward in the Strategy, as well as what has been done and what has been achieved and whether we can be satisfied with this. For instance, the indicator of satisfaction with the local municipality of Riga residents with regards to life in the city and the qualitative residential districts (environs) gives 2.49 points in general (average indices of the evaluation are on the 4 point scale, where 1 means: Very Satisfied, but 4 – Very Unsatisfied). The most satisfied residents of the city with environs are from Mangaļsala, Vecdaugava, Mūkupurvs, Mežciems, Bieriņi, Pleskodāle, Bišumuiža, Berģi and Dzirciems (1.83 – 2.19 points). Whereas, the least satisfied residents of the city with environs are from Mīlgrāvis, Ķīpsala, Bolderāja, Dreiliņi, Daugavgrīva, Maskavas forštate, Dārziņi, Brasa, Torņakalns and Mežaparks (3.67 – 2.67 points).
Amendments to the Riga Territory Planning for 2006 – 2018 in the First Draft have been Prepared for Public Discussion.
The Riga Territory Planning for 2006 – 2018 is a relatively new document (it was approved on 20 December 2005 and entered into force on 6 January 2006), but already in a year elaboration of amendments to it was required, due to changes in laws and regulations and judgments of the Constitutional Court related to the Riga Free Port and construction on the flooded territories. It is to be noted that the first draft of amendments to the Regulations on Usage and Construction of the Riga Historical Centre and its Protection Zone Territory has been elaborated as well.
In 2008 the Construction Board Council took decision on applying the public discussion procedure to 42 construction projects. Public discussion has taken place for 34 projects. Last year, during discussion of 34 construction projects, 11,655 opinions of residents, including opinions of companies, were received in total, of which 878 were positive (supporting the construction project) and 10,777 negative.
Far and away the most (negative) opinions were directed towards the construction project initiated by the Riga City Council Environment Department – the Centralized Green Waste Composting Area at Rītausmas iela 25 – 7034 objections (supported by the Riga City Council) and not a single positive opinion; the Block of Flats at Ozolciema iela 12 Block 5 with 721 negative opinions (the project was rejected by the Riga City Council); Construction of the Multi-Storey Residential Building at Anniņmuižas bulvāris 50b – 638 negative opinions (the project was rejected by the Riga City Council).
The public has not expressed much interest in such objects as an annex to the Latvian National Opera at Aspazijas bulvāris 3 – 2 questionnaire forms have been submitted; construction of a business centre at Stacijas laukums 1 – 4 questionnaire forms have been submitted; the shopping centre Construction of Homecenter Alfa and the Office Building on Brīvības gatve – 7 questionnaire forms; the multifunctional centre Akropole at Maskavas iela 257, Riga – 10 positive opinions have been submitted. There are projects when no opinions have been submitted during the public discussion: Construction of the Multi-Storey Residential Building at Imantas 7 līnija – the amount of submitted questionnaire forms is 0; Construction of the Office, Production and Warehouse Building on Krustpils iela – the amount of submitted questionnaire forms is 0.
Statistics shows that the most active responsiveness of residents is in cases when a construction is anticipated directly in the vicinity of residential houses or in their inner yard. In such cases 100 to 1,000 opinions are received on average. Residents mostly object about the construction as such, their chief arguments are: casting shadows on flats; construction on green areas; no appropriate infrastructure in the planned construction project region; very little distance between the current buildings and the planned project, etc.
The City Development Department has performed preliminary work for reorganization of the Department. The works have been performed in accordance with the Riga City Council Resolution of 13.05.2008 On Establishment of the Riga City Local Government Institution – the Riga City Construction Board and the Riga City Council City Development Department Reorganization, which anticipates implementation of direct supervision and control over the Construction Board work by the Riga City Council politicians in the circumstances, when the Department administration has come to the society trust crisis. As a result of the reorganization, the city development planning is separated from the construction supervision, which means the clear division of responsibility and the more direct political supervision over the construction process by the Riga City Council.
Among the most significant works performed under management of the City Development Department in 2008, the following must be noted as well: the amount of clients, who were provided services to at the Clients Service Centre – over 57,000; fifty three Detailed Plannings, which are in the elaboration process; coordination of 3,530 projects at the Riga City Construction Board during 11 months of the last year, etc.
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