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18/8/2023 Meri-Rastila

Helsinki, Finland

remarks Lea, a resident of Helsinki’s Meri-Rastila, about the urban planning process in the area. She notes how the city has shared very little information with the local community, keeping them largely in the dark.

 

In 2021, the city council reached a definitive decision to initiate an extensive area revitalization project. This undertaking encompasses the demolition of a minimum of ten residential buildings, totaling 25,000 square meters, as well as the removal of various public amenities, including a school, a kindergarten, and a shopping mall.

 

The objective of the new construction is to not only add another 2,400 new residents to the current population of approximately 5,000 but also to augment the presence of market-based housing in Meri-Rastila. Ultimately, the urban renewal project would transform the area into a home for 10,000 residents, effectively doubling its current population density.

 

A study investigating the perceptions of local residents regarding the area's urban development revealed that a significant majority opposed the extensive demolition of buildings. Many felt that their voices were not adequately heard throughout the urban development process.

 

However, residents in Meri-Rastila have consistently emphasized that they are not against changes in their neighborhood. Instead, they desire active involvement in the process that pertains to the surroundings that have become familiar to some of them over a span of thirty years.

 

As the demolition and subsequent construction process is expected to span several years, inevitably disrupting the daily lives of many residents, concerns about the uncertain future have arisen. In the context of large-scale urban redevelopment projects, it becomes paramount to adequately inform the local residents about the process.

"IT'S ALL SO SECRETIVE,"
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