Solutions for More Qualitative Involvement of the General Public are searched for
On 8 October a discussion took place on possibilities of improving the public discussion processes of the Riga territory planning and the detailed planning and of construction projects.
Participants of the discussion were representatives of the Urban Planning Board of the Riga City Council City Development Department, the Public Discussion Management Division, the Construction Board, the Construction Department of the Ministry of Economics, the Ministry of Regional Development and Local Governments, the Latvian Union of Local Governments and Transparency International Latvia (Delna).
The discussion purpose was to find solutions for more qualitative involvement of the general public in open discussions and to define the criteria more accurately for evaluating opinions expressed by the residents.
“At present, there are no comprehensive, sufficiently clear and unequivocally interpreted normative documents and criteria, according to which it would be possible to objectively evaluate the comments, which are mostly not substantiated, received from residents in the process of public discussions,” clarifies the Head of the Riga City Construction Board Andis Cinis.
A conclusion has been drawn during the discussion that there is no mechanism for finding a compromise between different opinions, for instance, those of the project developer and the residents. Hereto, it is unclear what decision specialists and politicians should take, if the residents reject a construction project without any explanations or proposals, whereas all institutions have provided their positive opinion and the normative requirements have been fully fulfilled.
Legal Analyst of Transparency International Latvia (Delna) Kristaps Markovskis considers that, as the construction regulations determine only minimal requirements to a construction project, the results obtained during the public discussion should serve as the material for the local government to be authorized in each specific case to determine more appropriate requirements to the anticipated construction, however, the precise normative regulation is not available at present.
It has been established during the discussion that the Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers No. 331 and No. 883, where criteria for evaluating the public discussion should be anticipated, are to be revised. One of the prerequisites for successful development of Riga is to create the favourable environment for economic development, including for investments into real estate development, which is ensured by having a clear and transparent construction procedure.
It is to be noted that the City Development Department has prepared proposals on the criteria, which anticipate the cases, when public consideration of a construction project is to be arranged. These proposals are included into amendments to the Riga Territory Planning for 2006 – 2018, which will be passed for public discussion at the end of this year.
This is the second discussion on this subject that has taken place in the Riga City Council City Development Department. The discussions shall be continued, in order to find the most optimal solutions for different issues.
Public Relations Division of the Riga City Council City Development Department