Tallinn opposes RKAS plans to allow housing on seafront plot

A plot of land on the coast on the Paljassaare peninsula in the Kopli district of North Tallinn, which was put up for auction by Estonian state real estate management company Riigi Kinnisvara AS (RKAS) at an initial price of €1.2 million, has not received approval from the city to initiate a detailed planning procedure. The City of Tallinn does not believe housing should be constructed on the seafront plot, while RKAS sees no issue with its use for residential buildings.

Riigi Kinnisvara AS (RKAS) has put a seafront plot in Paljassaare of over 15,000 square meters in size up for auction. Detailed plans submitted for tender, would allow the construction of residential buildings on the plot.

According to the plans, the plot, which is currently national defense land, would be converted into a residential area, in order to help RKAS increase its value and find a buyer more easily.

However, the North Tallinn district government's refusal to approve the redevelopment plans, have caused the project to stall. NorthTallinn City District Elder Manuela Pihlap (Center), told ERR, that the municipality does not consider the site to be suitable for housing, and has therefore not given its approval to the plans.

Pihlap said, that she was surprised to learn that the state-owned real estate company wanted to build housing along the coast.

"Building on seafront plots is a sensitive issue both environmentally and socially. Up to now, there has been a growing perception that the seashore is an area for public use, and in places where there is no access to the sea, there should be, if possible. That is why I am particularly surprised that, in the northern part of the city, a public real estate company has started to take the opposite approach," she said.

Pihlap believes, that RKAS' involvement in the construction of housing on the plot is completely incomprehensible.

"First of all, one could of course ask why RKAS would do anything (with the land) that is not intended for (use by) the state or any other public authorities. Although there is no direct rule prohibiting the running of the construction market like a normal company, the purpose behind the creation of this company is to shape the state's real estate policy, not to put private developments onto the market," she said.

RKAS told ERR, that one of the company's roles is to sell assets that the state no longer requires, and that before doing so, they want to increase their value.

"To this end, we have, for example, initiated detailed plans regarding some of the properties. In turn, proceeds from the sale will be invested in buildings that the state needs in the long term," said Mihkel Mäger, director of real estate development at RKAS.

Environmental threat and increased traffic

According to Manuela Pihlap, the problem for the district is, that, under the plans, valuable seadfront land will now be in private hands, rather than being used to serve the public interest.

"If this place is to become someone's home, the new homeowner will understandably expect a certain degree of privacy, and residents of the city will not be welcome (there). Secondly, building on the waterfront also poses some environmental risks. In addition, the roadway and the construction of buildings on the beach are in a no-build zone. The seafront in North Tallinn must remain as accessible for public use as possible," said Pihlap.

However, Mäger pointed out that, according to working version of the North Tallinn redevelopment master plan, the Neeme 50 area is intended to be part of the residential zone.

"Similar plans have been carried out in the past, which combine public and residential functions, for example in Noblessner, Kopli Lines (and) Haven Kakumäe," he said.

 Pihlap believes, that such steps should only be taken after discussing alternatives with members of the local community. "Unfortunately, the involvement of local residents has also been forgotten," she said.

However, according to Mäger, the public have not been consulted until now, for the simple reason that the detailed plan has not yet been initiated. "The process does provide opportunities for the locals to have their say, at the point when it reaches the public consultation stage. At the moment, no planning has been initiated," he said.

Officially, the North Tallinn government provided three reasons to justify its decision not to approve of the detailed plan for the Neeme 50 plot.

First, that the plans would be detrimental to the public interest as it would no longer be a green space for the use of all residents of the city. Second, that it would lead to increased traffic congestion in the area, and third, the harm caused to the natural environment.  

"As the detailed plan, which has been proposed, contains very significant shortcomings in terms of the environment and traffic management, as well as fails to take into account the public interest and the need to preserve the setting of the garden city, the Government of North Tallinn does not approve its initiation. The same view has been expressed by the North Tallinn City Council,"

The auction, which has an opening price of €1.2 million and is subject to a deposit of €120,000, is due to run until the afternoon of September 27.

Mäger predicts that a buyer for the property will be found during the first round of bidding.

The property at 50 Neeme Street is located by the sea on the shore of Paljassaare Bay in the northern part of Tallinn. The plot currently consists of the former Kopli Border Guard building along with outbuildings and three residential buildings. The total area of the plot is 766 square meters. Three residential buildings located on the plot are subject to open-ended lease agreements. There are also private houses and apartment buildings, as well as the new Kopli Lines development in the vicinity.

According to the detailed plan submitted for initiation, six plots with the right to build single or semi-detached dwellings have been earmarked for the site, ranging in size from 1,175 to 2,390 square meters, and with a maximum building area of between 250 and 450 square meters.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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