The Green Action (ZA) civil society organisation on Monday once again warned that the "Zagreb City" project is contrary to the city's physical and urban plans and that its implementation requires destroying the Hippodrome horse racing venue.
The project also involves building in green zones and destroying at least three pavilions of the Zagreb Trade Fair Centre that have the status of architectural monuments.
In response to the announcement that the hippodrome would be closed down, ZA has called out Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic, demanding that he stop ignoring legal procedures.
“Regardless of Bandic’s standard behaviour in which procedures are a mere formality, this project requires the issuance of an entire set of permits as well as adoption of amendments to physical plans. ZA will participate in the process and will contest each step that could lead to devastation and disregard for public interest in physical planning,” ZA said in a press release.
Bandic intends to amend the relevant physical plans in order to adapt them to the “Zagreb City” project without taking note of public or expert opinion, ZA said.
People using the services of the hippodrome have already been given notice to vacate the premises to make way for developers even though “this is evidently one of Bandic’s megalomaniac ideas involving his friends form Dubai who have already caused mass protests against a similar project in Belgrade,” ZA underscored.
Closing hippodrome could mean end to equestrian sports
The president of the Croatian Equestrian Association, Mladen Brezic, said that they had been advised that any lease contracts regarding the use of the hippodrome had to be terminated by 1 December.
“The Sports Act says that if a particular sports venue ceases to exit, a replacement facility has to be secured. The only exception to that would be if the land where the hippodrome is located is proclaimed to be in the public interest,” he underscored.
He added that it was unacceptable to have to relocate to private facilities without adequate infrastructure and warned that if the hippodrome was closed down, it could mean the end of equestrian sports in Croatia.
A protest rally has been announced for Saturday, 8 June against closing down the hippodrome. Brezic said that the protest was not being organised by equestrian clubs but by citizens.