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The following analysis shows what Russian laws have been violated by Stockmann and by St Petersburg officials, who illegally gave authorizations in the interests of the Finnish investor.
Violations on the part of Stockmann
Stockmann started works on the site in October 2006. At that time the company did not have an authorization for the preparation of the site for construction; authorizations to demolish the buildings were also missing (two 19th century buildings at 116/2 and 114 Nevsky Prospect, the latter having the status of a cultural heritage property protected by the Government whose demolition is prohibited by law).
An authorization for the preparation of the land plot for construction was given by the St Petersburg directorate of the Federal Service for Construction Supervision (Gosstroynadzor) on 16 April 2007 and that for the demolition of the buildings on 10 May 2007, which is considerably later than the complete demolition of both buildings had taken place. Moreover, the demolition of the building at 116 Nevsky being allowed by the St Petersburg authorities, the facade of the building at 114 Nevsky was to be preserved by Stockmann, but Stockmann willfully destroyed it.
By the time when the first stone was ceremoniously laid (17 October 2008), the company did not have all the necessary authorizations of the St Petersburg government committee for state use and protection of monuments (KGIOP). For example, the authorization of an architectural solution for the first floors of the reconstructed buildings is dated 4 September 2009.
Multiple violations were also detected by the Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Nuclear Monitoring (Rostekhnadzor) during a check conducted on 20 January 2007. (Rostekhnadzor monitors the buildings whose underground part is over 10 metres deep.) Authorizations for undertaking preparatory works at the property are missing, to say nothing of the authorization for construction. That is, the whole package of legislative documents was missing, the deputy head of the Northwest District directorate of Rostekhnadzor, Pavel Lipsky, said.
The authorization for construction was given to Stockmann only on 6 March 2008, which means Stockmann operated on the construction site for over a year having no legal right to do that.
In addition, an authorization for construction is given only after a positive decision of the Main Directorate for State Expert Assessment (Glavgosekspertiza) on the project documentation is rendered, while such a decision was made nearly two years later, on 28 February 2010.
In February 2007, the regional directorate of Rostekhnadzor published a statement, which said:
The foreign company has made gross violations of the legislation concerning the construction in the historic centre of the city. According to the design, it is planned to build a 35-metre-high building, while according to the regulations, the [maximum permissible] height must be 28 metres. In addition, design and exploration works for the construction of a three-level underground car park have not been undertaken.
The Stockmann company did not follow the instructions of KGIOP concerning the building at 114 Nevsky, which were reported by the head of the committee, Vera Dementyeva, in an interview to the Peterburgskiy Dnevnik newspaper (as of 26 February 2007).
KGIOP did not oppose the project to demolish the part of the building at 114 [Nevsky] that was in bad repair, with the exception of the facade wall. In order to preserve the wall, KGIOP instructed JSC Stockmann St Petersburg Centre to halt the works of the demolition of the existing structures and the construction of the trade and office complex until a working project on the strengthening of the façade wall that will guarantee its safety is worked out and authorized.
However, these instructions were not followed by Stockmann. As a result, the facade wall of the building at 114 Nevsky protected by the Government collapsed; a unique building dating back to the Pushkin times was entirely destroyed. This is an enormous damage caused to the historic centre of St Petersburg as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Voluntary dismantling of a glass superstructure of Stockmann's Nevsky Centre can and must be considered as the compensation for the damage.
Violations on the part of St Petersburg officials
In 2005, the Stockmann company acquired a land plot on Nevsky Prospect together with a previously developed design, authorized in 1999. Referring to these circumstances, Stockmann claims that all the authorizations were legally obtained in 1999, that is why the property it has built does not have to comply with the norms and regulations that appeared later and are currently in force.
This argument is false for the following reasons:
1) The authorizations given in 1999 were signed by St Petersburg officials in violation of the then laws, as at that time the site was part of the united protected area, where new construction was entirely prohibited, regardless of the declared height of the future properties.
The law of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) On the protection and use of historic and cultural monuments was then in force, according to which Instruction No 33 of the USSR Ministry of Culture was used (still in force). According to this Instruction, on the territory of the united zones of monuments protection demolition, displacement or modification of the immovable monuments of history and culture is banned; no construction of new structures is allowed, except for those erected as part of the restoration of unique architectural ensembles.
At the level of the St Petersburg legislation, the obligation to follow the Instruction was certified in clause 2 of decision No 1045 of Lengorispolkom (executive committee of the Leningrad municipal council) as of 30 December 1988, On the approval of the borders of the united protected area.
2) It is not the design authorized in 1999 that Stockmann has used, but an absolutely different one.
The 1999 design (No 1) implied the organization of a car park at ground level within the block. The realized design (No 2) has meant a four-level underground car park. Such a radical change requires an entirely different solution concerning all the supporting structures. In addition, design No 1 meant construction on the total area of 44,500 sq. m., while according to design No 2, the area of construction is 100,000 sq. m. It is obvious that remaining in the framework of design No 1 would have made it impossible to increase the area of the shopping centre more than two times.
The key idea of design No 1 was to create a covered pedestrian passageway within the block. As architect and designer Yuriy Zemtsov said in the covering document, all the facades and main walls of the front wings are to be preserved (except the façade of the building at 114 Nevsky facing the street, which was to be restored in accordance with the design of 1826) and it is planned to build mansard floors in the limits not exceeding the height of the ridge of the existing roofs.
It was planned to reach that height the following way: the building at 114 Nevsky increased its height due to the attic and the construction of one additional floor; then a gradual ascent to the five-storey back wing followed, where the height reached 25 metres, while the peak (33-35 metres) was reached only at the farthest from Nevsky Prospect part of the property.
The fact that it is this particular variant that was authorized, has been confirmed by the former chief architect of St Petersburg, Aleksandr Viktorov, in his interview to the Vecherniy Peterburg newspaper. They planned to build one ordinary floor and a mansard beyond the restored body of the building, he said.
The property that has been built reaches the height of 35 metres very close to Nevsky Prospect, which produces such a murderous effect. Whereas design No 1 partly allowed to hide the distant glass dominant point by the superstructure of the building at 114 Nevsky (if viewed from the opposite side of Nevsky Prospect, it would have been seen up to 15 per cent of the height of the building), design No 2 approaches the maximal height so that a superstructure almost three times higher than the restored building itself is hanging over it.
One can suppose that the design has been replaced with another one. Stockmann's desire to open a restaurant with a panoramic view over the most best-selling sights of Nevsky could be the reason why the built property reaches the maximal height (35 metres) near Nevsky Prospect and not at the farthest border of the block, as it was prescribed by the 1999 design.
This new version of design received a number of authorizations in 2006, with the St Petersburg government committee for town planning and architecture (KGA) giving its authorization on 29 May 2006, and KGIOP authorizing the general architectural solution on 4 August 2006. It should be noted that both committees violated the law by giving such authorizations, because height regulations had been in force since 2004, according to which it was unacceptable to build properties over 23 metres high on this territory (or 28 metres if an additional expert evaluation to assess the visibility of the designed properties was made; but no such expert evaluation was made in this case, which is also a violation of the law).
A historic and cultural expert evaluation was made not for the whole block in question (as it must be done according to the Russian legislation), but only for the buildings at 114 and 116 Nevsky Prospect. KGIOP authorized the conclusions of these expert evaluations and was obliged to take them into consideration when giving further authorizations. However, KGIOP ignored the conclusions of the previously authorized expert evaluations. Thus, the expert evaluation concerning the building at 116 Nevsky (made by the Spetsproektrestavratsiya research institute) recommended reconstruction and modernization on the condition of preserving the front facades, in the existing dimensions. The expert evaluation of the building at 114 Nevsky (made by architectural studio Liteynaya chast-91) stated, The dimensions of the property in terms of height must not exceed the existing ridge of the roof.
On 19 May 2008, Aleksandr Viktorov (then St Petersburg chief architect, head of KGA), referring to St Petersburg government resolution No 1731, signed the temporary regulations of construction on the territory in violation of law, thus setting the maximal permissible height at 35 metres. However, this resolution was not a separate enactment and was not to be used, which was later explained by the St Petersburg prosecutor's office (an official letter No 7-2834-07 as of 17 July 2008 from the prosecutor's office). Thus, the maximal height of 35 metres could not be set legally for the given territory, as according to the height regulations being in force since 2004 it could not exceed 28 metres.
In January 2009, a new St Petersburg law On the borders of the protected areas was adopted. According to this law, the following height limits were installed: for the front body of the building at 116 Nevsky Prospect not higher than the existing buildings, inside the courtyard not exceeding 28 metres, for the building at 114 Nevsky (up to its end, that is 67 metres from Nevsky Prospect) the existing height of the buildings is to be preserved (not higher that the adjacent buildings). This is what Appendix 3 to the given law says.
The law does not concern legal relations that appeared before its coming into effect. However, as the Stockmann company did not submit all the necessary design-related materials to KGIOP by November 2009 (which was reported by the deputy head of KGIOP, Aleksey Komlev), its design must follow the new height regulations, stipulated by the law On the borders of the protected areas in 2009. In this way, the built shopping centre must not exceed the height of adjacent historic buildings on Nevsky Prospect, and may reach the height of 28 metres only 67 metres far from Nevsky, deep inside the block, only on the condition that it is considered acceptable according to the results of a visual analysis using 3D computer models, which has not been made so far.
In August 2010, the Federal Service for Supervision of Compliance with the Law in the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (Rosokhrankultura) sent a letter to KGIOP pointing out the necessity for the design of the Stockmann shopping centre to comply with the regulations, stipulated by the St Petersburg law On the borders of the protected areas in 2009.
Summary: all the parts of the shopping centre exceeding the limits stipulated in the 2009 law must be dismantled at the expense of Stockmann, which did not have the full package of authorized documents by the time the given law was adopted.
10 2024 .
, , 10 13.00 !