Noise Stops New Residences In City

Stockholm's local government says no to new residences because noise levels outside are too high, according to the government.
December 22, 2003, 5am PST | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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English Translation: of "Noise stops new residences in city."On Tuesday the government said 'no' to new residences on Oxtorgsgatan (Ox Market Street) in central Stockholm. Noise levels outside are too high according to the government.The decision risks halting all residential construction in the city, according to the city building department."It is both unfortunate and disconcerting. It makes it all the harder for us to facilitate new residences in the central city, despite this being a quarter where it is really needed," says Ingela Lind, Building Director in Stockholm.Almost a year ago, the county administrative board put an end to plans for the Stuten block, a plan that would have made it possible to renovate office buildings to residences. The project had been included as part of a renewal of the eastern part of town adjacent to the areas near Regeringsgatan (Government street), Kungsgatan (King Street) and Oxtorgsgatan. The goal was to make an otherwise monotonous area of offices livelier by providing additional living space. But the administrative board said no, citing noise levels above 55 decibels out on the street as their reasoning. This threshold was earlier established by the Parliament. This value is actually surpassed on many streets in Stockholm and its inner suburbs.Common practice has developed allowing exceptions when the dwelling units are built with a quite side. However, the exception was not allowed in this case.According to Ingela Lind, this decision influences all inner city projects such as Västra Kungsholmen (West Kings Island), Hjorthagen (Deerfield), Norra Bantorget (North Ban Square) and Hammarby sjöstad (Hammarby village-by-the-sea). In order to create a quiet side, the development must be built in a block or square. This creates difficulty for small apartments and several of the highly cost effective point house projects in process in the city."It goes without saying that we are worried. In other arenas, the government has said that we need to build more and build inexpensively, and yet they make this type of decision. It makes buildings more costly and small apartment construction more difficult," says Ingela Lind."This is a separate matter. This type of building is seen as unhealthful for those who will live there, but it doesn’t mean that it is setting a precedent," said Ivar Frostenson of the Department of the Environment. This point of view is not shared by the National Board of Housing who, in concert with yesterday’s decision by the government has also been given the task of investigating how the noise threshold will be interpreted when new residences are planned."This question is a hot topic and we have been waiting on a decision from the government. It is viewed as somewhat setting a precedent. If the government had said yes to the plan, it would have likely been followed by a large number of applications for building permits in similar areas of Stockholm, according to Dick Larsson of the National Board of Housing who stood behind the county board’s vote against the plan and who was a member of a referral board on the matter."When we made our decision, we didn't feel that there was enough justification in the evidence to accept residences here," he said.Where there would have been 20-30 new units, now stands an empty concrete skeleton. The old offices have been razed and the construction has awaited a decision from the government. Even the property owner, Drott, has regretted the decision, even though it is significantly more profitable for them to build offices. "We have been expecting to build residences here. From a clearly technical standpoint, it would not have been a problem to build quiet apartments here and it would have given more life and excitement to the East City," said Peter Wågström of Drott."Now we will have offices instead. We can't indefinitely sit on an empty building in central Stockholm for long," he added.Article by Annika Nilsson, annika.nilsson@dn.se. Thanks to Carl Morgan for the translation.

Thanks to Carl Morgan

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Published on Thursday, December 18, 2003 in Dagens Nyheter
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