Urban Transformation in Istanbul

Urban transformation in Istanbul has gained pace with cross party support to reduce the number of risky buildings in Istanbul ASAP.
Image showing demolition of building being transformed into new modern building
  • Istanbul famously sits on a fault line which has caused major earthquakes, the last in 1999 which reached 7.9 on the richter scale and claimed thousands of lives.
  • Urban transformation, was enacted by Law No. 6306. It aims to replace risky and damaged buildings across Turkey with safe and modern structures to minimize loss of life and property due to earthquakes.
  • Risky buildings are identified by technical data and can be included in urban transformation projects, allowing residents to benefit from rental assistance and loan support.
  • Financial aid includes rental assistance until new buildings are ready and interest subsidies for loans, helping residents navigate the transformation process without financial strain.
  • The project enhances city livability, prevents unplanned urbanization, and increases property value by constructing safer and more durable buildings.

Urban transformation involves demolishing risky buildings and constructing new infrastructure to meet various community needs. This includes the development of congress and cultural centers, parks, and entertainment areas. It aims to enhance urban areas, making them more modern and livable. The comprehensive urban transformation law has been in effect since 2012.

Urban transformation involves demolishing damaged buildings and replacing them with modern earthquake proof structures. Regional and national government offers assistance such as rental aid and subsidised loans to rights holders. Buildings must be deemed risky, based on technical data, to qualify. This determination is made by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization. Residents of risky buildings can apply for urban transformation support. They can request a risky building report from licensed architectural firms and then apply to the Ministry for assistance.

State support offers financial aid such as rental assistance and loan interest support. Rental assistance includes monthly payments until new buildings replace the older ones. Interest support is provided to loan beneficiaries at a rate set by the Council of Ministers, covered by the Transformation Projects Special Account. Eligible individuals are notified to the Ministry by their bank. After assessment, the Ministry grants one year of interest support to qualified beneficiaries. This aid protects individuals from hardship during urban transformation.

The benefits

Urban transformation offers numerous benefits, aiming to create livelier cities for both the country and its citizens. It enhances human health by revitalizing problematic areas and replacing damaged buildings. Upgrading structures ensures safety during potential disasters and prevents loss of life and property. Additionally, it curbs unplanned urbanization, fostering more spacious urban environments. By constructing safer and more durable buildings, urban transformation enhances property value, contributing to overall community development. Notary fees, title deed fees (4%), fees collected by municipalities, stamp duty, inheritance and transfer tax, revolving fund fee and other fees will not be collected for transactions, contracts, transfers, registrations and practices to be carried out in accordance with this Law.

Risky area vs Risky structure

The law also defines two key concepts: “risky area” and “risky structure,” shaping the law around these definitions. The Ministry of Environment and Urbanization is granted extensive powers under this law, giving it superiority over other legislation.

  • Risky area: Defined as an area posing a risk to life or property due to ground structure or construction, determined by the Ministry or Administration with input from the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency. Final decisions are made by the Council of Ministers based on the Ministry’s proposal.
  • Risky structure: Refers to a building inside or outside a risky area that has reached the end of its economic life or is scientifically determined to be at risk of collapse or severe damage.

The procedure for demolition

Evacuation and demolition procedures for buildings designated as risky under Law No. 6306 are outlined as follows:

  • Owners of risky buildings must agree to their evacuation and demolition as per the law. Rental assistance may be provided to residents during this process.
  • Owners are given a minimum of sixty days to demolish the building themselves. If they fail to do so within this timeframe, administrative authorities will issue a notification, granting additional time.
  • If the building is not demolished by the owners within the given period, civil authorities will evacuate and demolish the building. However, owners are liable for the demolition costs.
  • Once a building is demolished, the land becomes registered in the land registry under the owners’ names, proportionate to their shares.
  • Decisions regarding the evaluation of the land parcels, construction on them, or merging of parcels require a two-thirds majority agreement among stakeholders.
  • If unanimity cannot be reached within thirty days following the notification, the Ministry, TOKİ, or the municipality may resort to urgent expropriation for properties owned by individuals or private entities.

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