Turkey will shortly begin its largest urban renewal project as former military barracks in Sangazi, a suburb of Istanbul are slated for demolition. The button is due to be pressed by the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and will mark the continuation of a $400 billion project that will last twenty years. There are 3,169 private buildings due for demolition, as well as 34 government buildings. These are scheduled to be knocked down within a few days of this ceremony.
The project is being led by the Housing Development Administration of Turkey, and will eventually result in the demolition of around seven million buildings throughout Turkey, many of which have been deemed to be hazardous in the event of an earthquake. The plan was put forward following two earthquakes in 2011 that killed 650 people in the province of Van.
The huge project is due to be completed with the help of local municipalities, and 500,000 buildings have already been built without any aid from the Treasury. So far 110 municipalities in Turkey have requested aid under this project, and have submitted detailed studies to back up these requests.
The redevelopment follows decades of unplanned urban building which has resulted in many properties failing to meet basic safety standards should there be another earthquake.
Although the scheme sounds admirable, it has attracted some criticism, as some are concerned the poor and vulnerable may be forcibly evicted from their homes to make way for urban gentrification in Istanbul and other historic neighbourhoods. In 2008 a redevelopment scheme saw many Roma displaced from an historic area of Istanbul, after which property prices rose substantially.