Town plan expansion, urban capacity and utilisation of available space in Athens, 1984-2004

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Issue 12

The paper presents a survey of the size and geographical distribution of the supply of new planned urban space in the wider Athens region during 1984-2004 with the aim of estimating its impact on prices and supply in land and housing markets. The survey combined the detailed measurement and mapping of expansions of official Town Plans with the estimation of the building plot areas, average floorspace coefficients and urban capacities (total potential floorspace) that were thus added to each major zone of the region. Estimates of these variables per zone were also calculated for existing Town Plans, prior to 1984. It was found that while new plan expansions have been quite extensive in terms of total area covered, their contribution in increasing total urban capacity has been very limited and that in large part they have taken place in areas of secondary and vacation housing outside the main body of the city’s real estate market. As a result, during the second half of the period (1995-2004) when the rate of expansion was much slower, the aggregate ratio of demand to supply for urban space worsened substantially from the point of the housing market while the city as whole approached a high degree of urban "saturation" (high utilisation of available space). Regarding the social distribution of the supply of new urban space, town plan expansions during 1984-1995 were more favourable to low-income residential zones. In contrast, during the next decade, changes in the relationship between the demand and supply of space and in the extent of urban "saturation" have been distributed, both socially and geographically, in a relatively uniform manner.

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