What’s so secret about city plans?
Ukrainians still have restricted access to city plans. While this may not seem like scintillating reading, such access would make it possible to identify – perhaps even prevent – all kinds of corrupt dealings.
A project funded by the International Renaissance Foundation under the title “Through access to general plans to urban construction without corruption” was undertaken a year ago by the East Ukrainian Civic Initiative Centre and its regional partners.
450 city and town councils were formally approached with requests to see the relevant city plans.
The majority either didn’t respond at all (which is illegal) or refused access, while some gave incomplete answers.
The Kharkiv authorities, for example, claimed that the plan is posted on their site. Oleh Vyatkin from the Pechenihy Environmental Group says that yes, there is information on the site, but in text form, without the diagrams and maps making it possible to find out where industrial or green areas are located, areas with chemical or noise pollution, radioactive contamination, etc.
Volodymyr Shcherbachenko, Head of the East Ukrainian Civic Initiative Centre calls the situation in Kharkiv shameful but standard for most Ukrainian cities. He says that assertions from city authorities that their general city plans are openly available have only declarative value. He says that the authorities show only part of the plans while the rest are concealed under the stamp “For official use only”.
In the capital the monitors found that around half of the general plan is concealed from the public in this way. What is hidden, moreover, is the information linked with construction. According to Shcherbachenko, the situation is also bad in Lviv and Simferopol. It is better, though far from ideal, in Odessa and Luhansk thanks to active communities.
These general plans are clearly public information and concealment is therefore in breach of the Public Information Act, as well as the Law on Regulating Urban Construction. . If there is any specific information which is genuinely classified, then this should be on restricted access, not the entire document.
The East Ukrainian Civic Initiative Centre is taking all regional centres to court over concealment of information. Thus far with no success, and they are preparing an application to the European Court of Human Rights.
From information reported by Deutsche Welle (where the picture is from)