An initiative to assess the constitutionality of the procedure of drawing up and adopting the General Urban Plan of Novi Sad Until 2030, adopted on 21 July 2022, has been submitted by RERI to the Constitutional Court with a request that proceedings begin, keeping in mind that the plan was adopted contrary to the procedures mandated by the Law on Planning and Construction.
The procedure for drawing up the General Urban Plan of Novi Sad was initiated back in 2009, when the Decision on drawing up the plan was adopted, setting 30 June 2011 as the deadline.
The public consultation was organized only on 28 December 2021, more than 10 years after the deadline for the plan’s drafting had passed. However, the City Administration of Novi Sad had skipped one of the most important steps when drawing up and adopting planning documents – organizing an early public consultation.
Jovan Rajić, lawyer and chairman of RERI’s board, points out that in this way, the public was denied the opportunity to influence planning decisions and propose new ones.
“The absence of an early public consultation has resulted in the adoption of a plan which is being “imposed” on citizens, who were denied the opportunity to participate in the early phases of drafting this important act by the City Administration of Novi Sad, in violation of both legal procedures and the principles of public participation. Over 12 thousand citizens submitted negative comments regarding this plan, an unusually high number, even for our relatively low standards.
Citizens have unambiguously expressed their dissatisfaction during public hearings and presentations, which had an inappropriate character to them, with verbal and physical conflicts, which eventually escalated to protests on the streets of Novi Sad and clashes with law enforcement. The outcome of all of this is a plan which gives priority to private over public interests, and one which prefers aggressive construction at the cost of losing public spaces and degrading natural and cultural goods”, said Rajić.
The plan enables the construction of a new flood defence embankment, which would “encircle” Sordoš, Kamenička Ada and the “Novi Sad” shipyard, effectively enabling the conversion of around 160 hectares (320 football fields) of riverfront land, where construction is now forbidden, into building land. This brings Novi Sad a step closer to the realization of the “Novi Sad Waterfront” project.
RERI would like to emphasize the importance of following procedures stipulated by current regulations, especially those which enable the public to participate in decision making. Given the lack of information, non-transparent procedures and preventing citizens from acting through institutions, their concern is expected and understandable. However, such scenarios lead to extra-institutional expressions of citizen dissatisfaction, which is not in anyone’s interest.