Tools for Legal Integration and Regeneration of Informal Development in Greece: A Research Study in the Municipality of Keratea
Unplanned and illegal urban development is a long-existing issue worldwide that has serious economic, social, and environmental impacts. Informal development has been increasing rapidly due to globalization and rapid urbanization. Informal development is occurring in Europe in places that have never had such developments in the past. Unauthorized buildings are not registered, and frequently coordination in administration in terms of land policies, tools, procedures, and information dissemination is not successful. Global lack of relevant information and experience hinders evaluation of the size and impact of current informal urban development. This research focuses on the Greek situation. In Greece, construction without a plan is permitted, under certain regulations, in areas without a city plan. Often than not, however, these regulations are violated, resulting in illegal and informal buildings. Over the years, such buildings were legalized after the unplanned settlements were integrated in an urban regeneration project. The tools used for legal integration and environmental upgrade of unplanned settlements, which usually consist of both illegal and legal buildings in the suburban land, are investigated in this paper. We share here the experience, information, and statistics derived from our original research conducted in cooperation with the local authorities and the private surveying company responsible for urban regeneration in the municipality of Keratea in the greater region of Athens. We present the difficulties encountered in dealing with informal settlements, provide examples, discuss lessons learnt from an analysis of the existing situation, assess the efficiency of the tools used, and evaluate the results achieved. Because similar research and reliable information are not easily available internationally, the recommendations made in this paper may be applicable in countries facing similar problems.
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