Latvian Saeima considers unblocking Riga’s development plan

Minister of Environment Protection and Regional Development Māris Sprindžuks may decide to at least partially lift the block previously imposed by the last minister of regional development Artūrs Toms Plešs on the capital city’s development plan, said Combined List Saeima faction leader Edgars Tavars.
The Saeima has received amendments to the Law on Preservation and Protection of the Historic Centre of Riga. Approval of these amendments will allow «unblocking» the previously halted Riga development plan. When asked how soon amendments could be passed, Tavars hopes it could happen as soon as possible – February or March.
The politician stressed that the decision made by the 13th Saeima to halt the capital city’s development plan impacted Riga and caused losses for Latvia’s national economy.

Potential investors want to invest in Riga and Latvia in general,

explained Tavars. He also criticised the previous government’s decision to halt Riga’s development plan, which put protection of the gambling industry above the entire country’s development.
The aforementioned law the Saeima has started reviewing is expected to come into force immediately after its promulgation. Law amendments were supported by deputies from nearly all factions represented in the Saeima – Edgars Tavars (Combined List), Ainars Latkovskis (New Unity), Raivis Dzintars (National Alliance), Agnese Krasta (New Unity), Viktors Valainis (Union of Greens and Farmers), Ainārs Šlesers (Latvia in First Place), Kaspars Briškens (Progressive), Atis Švinka (Progressive), Linda Matisone (Combined List) and Juris Viļums (Combined List).
Riga’s new development plan took several years to make, but its progress was halted by then the Minister of Environment Protection and Regional Development Artūrs Toms Plešs. This caused a split within Riga’s ruling coalition. It initially included For Latvia’s Development/Par! and Progressive party. Riga City Council chairman Mārtiņš Staķis later left the political party Par! because of this.
One major objection as to why Plešs halted Riga’s development plan was that with the new development plan the capital city’s historic centre would be left without a legal territory plan. Riga City Council previous decision would have resulted in two mutually uncoordinated territory plans.
The opposition mentioned it is possible that

Plešs’ decision could be explained with unwillingness to limit gambling,

which is listed in the new plan.
Latvia’s new Minister of Environment Protection and Regional Development Māris Sprindžuks believes such a decision from his predecessor was imbalanced. He invited a discussion regarding the possible narrowing of the minister’s authority in matters involving regulations issued by local governments.
To restore Riga city’s development plan, Sprindžuks proposed implementing amendments that would allow for the situation when there are two development planning documents in Riga. This would allow Riga to return to a normal development environment within two months, said the minister.
Also read: Riga City Council expects EUR 140 million more in budget revenue than last year