Modification of the General Plan
The municipal enterprise Sofiaplan has started the process of preparing the amendment of the Master Plan of the Sofia Municipality. In the period November 2018 - December 2019, a series of events were organized to summarize opinions, ideas and suggestions on the topic of the upcoming change of the Sofia plan. More than 30 meetings were held with the participation of nearly 120 experts in the field of spatial planning, urbanists, architects, lawyers, engineers, representatives of branch organizations. The stages of the preparation and implementation of the expert meetings include the Union of Urbanists, the Union of Architects and the Laboratory for Urban Development.
The process starts at the end of 2018, when meetings with experts, activists, representatives of municipal administration and business are organized. In them the participants share their opinion on three main topics: "What is a Master Plan and how do we create it?", "How do we implement a Master Plan?", "How do we improve the Master Plan?"
The first public event that brings the topic of the change of the Master Plan to the general public is the forum Sofia Plan: Forum for Change of the General Plan. The event brings together nearly 300 experts and citizens at Sofia Tech Park on January 17, 2019 to discuss the topics:
- what are the strengths and weaknesses of the current Master Plan of Sofia
- what should be the nature and content of the Master Plan and how to make it more accessible, transparent and clear
- how public-private consensus is achieved and how public interest is protected
- how to manage the process of creating, monitoring, implementing and amending the Master Plan
- why data is important and why it is important to plan on a database
- what is the legal framework and whether it needs to be changed
The next stage of the process is the gathering of expertise from the branch organizations and the municipal administration. In March and April 2019 consultations were held with representatives of the Union of Urbanists in Bulgaria, the Union of Architects in Bulgaria, the Chamber of Engineers in Investment Design, the House of Architects, the Union of Landscape Architects, the House of Builders in Bulgaria, the House of Surveyors in Bulgaria, the Chamber of Geodesy Engineers, the National Association of Construction Developers, as well as representatives of the Architecture and Urban Planning Division. The following issues were discussed:
- the understanding of the Master Plan as an element of public relations related to spatial planning
- the functioning of the Master Plan as an interactive element of the system connected to the development of the territory
- the role that each of these organizations would like to play in the upcoming Master Plan modification process
In May and June 2019 interviews were organized with experts who worked on the current Master Plan of Sofia, who shared their experience in developing the plan.
The final stage of the process deepens the expert talks into four topics that emerge as priorities for the future change of the Master Plan: Green System, Housing and Housing, Mobility, Engineering and Technical Infrastructure and Territorial Scope of Functional zones and device parameters.
At the beginning of 2020, the team of Sofiaplan is developing a text called Proposal for a new structure of the General Development Plan of Sofia Municipality. According to him, it should be organized to reflect the territorial nature of the plan. That is, to give prescriptions only for the physically measurable elements of the environment, which have a lasting imprint on the territory and are a factor for its condition and / or functioning. The elements of the Master Plan are grouped into five systems: Ecosystems; Engineering networks and facilities; Buildings; Ground base; Transport networks and facilities.
The proposal was sent for consultations to experts, politicians and industry organizations in the period March - April. Opinions were received from the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Grupa Grad, the Union of Architects, Bulgarian Construction Chamber, the Union of Urbanists, the Union of Landscape Architects, as well as from the experts arch. Veneta Kavaldzhieva and Martin Zaimov.
Based on the received opinions, the text, its title and content have been changed and developed into a new one - Description of the process of modification of the Master Plan. The process is considered from different points of view with purpose to reach the best and most sustainable approach to change the plan. Various aspects of what a 21st century Master Plan should look like are described, as well as concrete steps towards achieving it. A key point is the introduction of the so-called parametric planning, which allows active, timely and sustainable management of the territory.
The new proposal addresses three main aspects:
- Concept for the role, content, method of updating, implementation and other aspects of the Master Plan.
- Working version of the description of the process of elaboration of the Master Plan: how, who and when.
- Expected result that the process described will lead to.
The proposal was sent for consultations to experts and branch organizations, and opinions were received from the Bulgarian Construction Chamber, the Union of Architects, the Union of Urbanists and other stakeholders.
After receiving these opinions, the proposal for the structure of the information model of the plan was revised again. In addition to the recommendations and local urban planning practices and norms, the revision also considers the European Spatial Data Directive - INSPIRE. The final version of the information model includes a total of 34 elements, grouped in 5 systems:
- Environment (Atmospheric Air, Biodiversity, Water Bodies, Climate, Vegetation, Soils, Radiation, Noise);
- Engineering networks and facilities (Water supply network and facilities for clean water, Gas transmission network and facilities, Electrical network, energy production and facilities, Other wires and facilities, Sewage network and facilities for dirty water, Waste collection and treatment facilities, Equipment for data transmission, heat transmission network, heat production and equipment);
- Buildings and space (archeology, open space sites, movable and monumental sites, buildings and individual objects);
- Earth base (Geological structure and processes, Relief);
- Transport networks and facilities (air corridors, bicycle network, cable car networks, transport facilities, wheeled public transport network, pedestrian network, rail networks, streets, roads and parking facilities and sites);
- Organization and structure (Administrative addresses, Geographical names, Boundaries and rules).
Following the Description of the process of amending the Master Plan, the team of Sofiaplan continues to work on the following tasks:
Creating a parametric model
An algorithmic tool is being developed in which are introduced the parameters that will be used in the Master Plan, their indicators, weights and relationships. The main spatial framework will be the urban unit, and the main measure - the number of inhabitants.
Creating a map of conditions and their comparison
Comparison of different reported and planned conditions of the environment and its elements. The aim is to achieve a comparison between them and to reach a conclusion about the achieved and unachieved goals of the current Master Plan.
Extraction of goals from other strategic documents
Goals and frameworks are derived from the existing strategic documents at a higher level. A common document (and map) is created with the priorities and development goals provided in the Master Plan of the nearby municipalities.
The implementation of the following activities is assigned to external experts and teams:
Study of world practice
This stage includes a study of world urban planning practice, which is performed by urban planner Pavel Yanchev. The study aims at a qualitative and critical analysis of experience and practice without imposing radically new or incompatible planning models. We are not looking for an alternative to the Master Plan or a completely new planning system, but innovative approaches in the way of working in similarly structured systems. For this purpose, a detailed review of three foreign examples for the respective equivalent of the General Development Plan will be performed. The emphasis should be on the quality of the conclusions and delving into the complexity of each context, not on the quantity of the contexts considered. The result of the research should be a system for thematic comparison of positive and negative experience in foreign urban planning practice, which should inform with ideas and critical remarks the design brief for amending the Master Plan of Sofia.
Analysis of the detailed development plans
In this part, knowledge is derived from the current or in the process of approval detailed development plans (DDP) for the territory of Sofia Municipality. The task is assigned to PlaceMake and is divided into two stages: analysis and conclusions. In the first phase, information must be processed and comparisons made, such as: analysis of the compliance of the DDP with the Master Plan; the degree of implementation of the DDP (including their amendments); the partial changes in the DDP and their compliance with the Master Plan; the cumulative effect of the investments on the territory in relation to the goals set in the Master Plan. As many of the analyzes as possible should be performed in a GIS environment. In the second stage, conclusions will be made based on the completed tasks. They must summarize the knowledge gained through the analyzes, describe the territory of the municipality in relation to the analyzed issues and group the cases territorially.
Preliminary talks were also held with several universities for the inclusion of doctoral students in the process of updating the plan.
One of the main tasks of Sofiaplan in 2020 is to complete the design brief for amendment of the General Development Plan, which subsequently will be submitted for public discussion.