Activists from the City Jest Ours association and several other organizations are protesting against the changes proposed by the town hall in the area of the former Skra stadium. They accuse the city authorities of withdrawing from the winning architectural concept selected five years ago. The construction of a hall for Legia’s basketball players is the most controversial.
In 2020, the city regained the Skra grounds after a long-term court battle with the club. It is about 20 hectares located in Pole Mokotowskie, at the junction of three districts: Śródmieście, Ochota and Mokotów. The main athletics stadium with a characteristic tower towering over the area is now a ruin, so it was decided to develop the surrounding areas first. Already in 2018 the concept was selected in an architectural competition. The winner of the competition was Aleksander Wadas from Gdańsk. – We have chosen a job that best meets the spatial and sports challenges. The recreational program is based on a spatial composition with a water reservoir and hills, offers jogging routes, outdoor gyms by the water, and tobogganing hills. These attractions will interest both amateurs and professionals – said Marlena Happach, head of the city’s Office of Architecture and Spatial Planning. The concept also assumed linking the area of Skra with Pole Mokotowskie.
According to social activists from the City Jest Ours association, some elements of this concept were abandoned by the city, which did not appeal to some residents of Ochota. As MJN emphasizes in the press release on this subject, the decision to build a sports hall for Legia’s basketball players for about PLN 100 million was inconsistent with the results of the aforementioned architectural competition. Activists point out that the hall will be one and a half times larger than Torwar, and this generates a number of other problems.
“The renovation of Skra according to the city’s idea is a devastation of the existing, mature greenery”
MJN reminded that the winning concept assumed not only linking the area of Skra with Pole Mokotowskie, but also “leaving a large part of the existing tree stand”. As the activists point out, a pond was also planned in the place where the basketball hall is to be built. “Unfortunately, the city authorities did not reach an agreement with the author of the winning project and a concept is currently being implemented that will cause the felling of trees on a gigantic scale (an inventory of trees needed for felling is underway). As admitted by the spatial commission of the Ochota district council, the director of Active Warsaw, Skra will become one a huge construction site. Nothing of the current biotope will survive here” – they noted in the press release.
What’s more, the director of Active Warsaw, Bartosz Kusior, informed the district councilors that concerts will take place both in the hall and in the renovated stadium. And this – according to MJN – means “a dramatic deterioration in the living conditions of the inhabitants of Stara Ochota, Rakowiec and the midwife in the vicinity of Pole Mokotowskie part of Mokotów”.
In addition, the association pointed out that only 50 parking spaces are planned near the rebuilt Skra, which may lead to the paralysis of the streets in Stara Ochota, Rakowiec and Stary Mokotów by visitors parking there.
– The renovation of Skra, according to the city’s idea, is a devastation of the existing, mature greenery – geometric rows of hornbeams, old Italian poplars and aspens that woodpeckers love. Renovation projects should assume adaptation, not complete degradation of interesting pieces of urban nature, commented Stanisław Łubieński, a naturalist and resident of Ochota, quoted in the press release.
As MJN points out, a protest in this matter was also taken by: Dzika Ochota, Lewica Warszawa, Ochocianie Sąsiadłi, Polska 2050 Warsaw, Together in Warsaw and Zieloni.
City Hall responds
We asked the capital city hall for a comment on the activists’ allegations. As his spokeswoman Monika Beuth emphasized, “the concerns of volunteers, and above all the allegations, are unjustified.” – The process has been very transparent from the very beginning, communicated by the city at every stage, since we managed, after years of struggle, to take over the neglected and degraded area of Skra by the previous user – she pointed out.
The spokeswoman also assessed that presenting such applications “remains in contradiction with the actual assumptions of the competition and the documentation being prepared” and, moreover, “it is not known on what basis such conclusions are formulated”. – In the current state of affairs, the design documentation for the first stage of Skra’s modernization (including the training stadium, recreation zone) has not yet been prepared (and even more so accepted), and the second stage (main stadium and hall) is at the stage of an architectural competition, which has not yet been resolved (not even the competition entries to be assessed by the competition jury have been submitted yet), the spokeswoman noted.
She also emphasized that the assumption and goal of the city is “a functional and communication connection between the areas of Skra and Pole Mokotowskie”. – Such provisions were included directly in the rules of the competition. After the reconstruction of both these places, one combined recreation and sports area will be created, available to the residents of the capital city of Warsaw. of Warsaw. The statement that the modernization of Skra is carried out for professional sports clubs is untrue. Of course, they will also receive a place where they will be able to present their sports skills (e.g. during sporting events) – but it is the residents who will receive previously practically inaccessible public space to use (e.g. for recreation, walks, rest, etc. .) – assured Beuth.
She added that when it comes to greenery, “the functional and utility program clearly states that the target land development should take into account the use of part of the real estate for greenery, including rows of trees – as originally occurring in this area and the creation of which is recommended by the local spatial development plan” . She also pointed out that in the case of investment planning, the aim should be to preserve the most valuable trees being part of targeted plantings. The method of land development should take into account the preservation of as much of the existing greenery as possible and new plantings.
Skra is an area for sport, recreation and relaxation
Bueth also addressed the noise allegations. – The modernized Skra will be primarily an area intended for sports, recreation and relaxation for the residents of Warsaw. And such and no other is the main and basic purpose of this area. Presenting the planned development as a concert venue is a far-reaching over-interpretation. The fact that it will be possible to organize an occasional cultural event in the sports hall does not mean that it will become a concert and entertainment center, she assured. She noted that “all planned facilities will have to meet all the requirements of the law (e.g. construction law), including those regarding specific noise standards.”
As she indicated, the assumptions of the planned development are based on the provisions of the Local Spatial Development Plan adopted for this area, which provides for the construction of an underground car park under the stadium, an additional car park between the stadium and ul. Ondraszka and along the street itself. – Thus, the final development of Skra will not only standardize the way of communication for the entire area, but also – which is probably the most important for the local residents – will provide additional parking spaces. Thanks to this, it will be possible to systematically release some spaces that are now occupied by other people, at the expense of the residents, announced the spokeswoman.
And she assessed: – Finally, Skra – after years of negligence of the previous manager – has a chance to become a well-arranged sports and recreation space, surrounded by greenery.
Main photo source: Capital Sports Center ACTIVE WARSAW