Redevelopment of wild area meets strong opposition

In the City column this month: Public protest at decision to build on Amager Fælled, a new bridge completes the Harbour Circle, and the Royal Library refuses to ask for Pokéstops to be removed

Controversial development in Amager Fælled approved
Copenhagen is set to lose a large chunk of one its largest remaining unspoiled areas thanks to a planned redevelopment between Bella Center and Sundby Metro Station.

The land has been earmarked for redevelopment for over 20 years, but only recently has a concrete proposal has been put forth – a new sustainable residential community built on a wild area that has been largely untouched in 5000 years. Around eight percent of Amager Fælled will make way for the new development.

Around 30,000 people have signed a petition to preserve the area, and a protest was held in late October.

“The long history of the area means that the plants, insects, birds and fungi in the area make up a unique ecosystem, which can’t be found anywhere else,” the Danish Society for Nature Conservation wrote in a press release.

Amager Fælled, seen looking north toward the city centre. The area set aside for redevlopment is outlined in white. Photo: By & Havn

Amager Fælled, seen looking north toward the city centre. The area set aside for redevlopment is outlined in white. Photo: By & Havn

It won’t be the first encroachment into Amager Fælled. A golf course and Danhostel both opened in 2006, while a brand new camping site is already planned in the south.

Despite being rich in flora and fauna, Amager Fælled is not a protected nature reserve, unlike Kalvebod Fælled to the south. The area was exempted from this status when plans for the development of Ørestad were written into law in 1992, which explicitly stated that the area can be developed without regard to the wild and unique nature.

Proponents of the construction argue that it is necessary to develop the area, because Copenhagen is growing by 11,000 residents a year. They also emphasise that the new development will be built with respect for the historic nature in mind.

The landowner, CPH City and Port Development– a publicly owned development company tasked with developing Ørestad – is 16 billion kroner in debt. Selling the properties in Amager Fælled is expected to raise 1.5 billion kroner.

PokéStops in Royal Library Garden spark controversy
The Library Garden next to the Royal Library in Copenhagen has turned from a peaceful oasis of contemplation into a chaotic meeting place for Pokémon hunters. The garden, which is located on Slotsholmen between the Royal Library and Parliament, is home to no less than six PokéStops, which has drawn an unprecedented number of visitors since the release of the mobile app Pokémon Go in July.

Some people feel that the new visitors are ruining the garden and have called for a limit to the hunters. One of them is Birgitte Possing, who is a researcher at the National Archives in the Royal Library.

“I was once pushed as I tried to walk through the garden, when 50 youngsters come running around the corner,” she told Ritzau.

PokéStops are often placed at cultural or historically significant places, but in places like the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin authorities have asked the company responsible for Pokémon Go, Niantic, to remove them.

The Agency for Culture and Palaces has refused to intervene and ask for the removal of the PokéStops, however. On the contrary, the agency has set up a portable toilet, a number of extra garbage cans and hired an extra guard to handle the many new visitors.

Saxogade to become social, non-profit shopping centre

Vesterbro’s Saxogade will become a hub of social shops and workshops, thanks to a 5.4 million kroner grant from the Turbog Foundation.

By the end of the year, three new shops and workshops will pop up at the end of Saxogade on Litauens Plads. The three shops include De Grønne Fingre – a market garden with focus on balcony gardening; Fredes Woodshop – a furniture maker and printing house; as well as Normas Corner – a showroom for gardening and furniture.

The project is spearheaded by Settlementet, a commercial foundation in Vesterbro, that works to improve the rights and standards of living of the socially marginalised. The new shops will merge social responsibility with commercial sensibility, by contributing all proceeds to creating jobs for vulnerable Copenhageners, such as the homeless and people with drug problems.

“Customers will not come because of their bleeding hearts. They will come because they’ll get good quality, lovely design and a good bargain. It’s commercialism on equal terms,” says head of the project, Magrethe Wivel.

Harbour Circle completed
The 13-kilometer bicycle and pedestrian route, Harbour Circle, which runs around Copenhagen Harbour, has been completed with a new bridge in Sydhavnen.

The route stretches along both sides of the harbour, from Nyhavn in the north to Sluseløbet in the south, and is connected by five cyclist and pedestrian bridges – most notably Inderhavnsbroen at Nyhavn.

The Harbour Circle functions both as a commuter artery for cyclists as well as a recreational and sightseeing path for tourists, passing through 12 distinct areas – from historic Nyhavn, past rickety houseboats in Sydhavn, and alongside Amager Fælleds wild nature.

The new bridge is, however, only a temporary measure. If everything goes according to plan, the new Belvederebroen will be replaced by another bridge at Frederiksholmsløbet in 2018. M

News, Urban

By Jon David Finsen

Born and raised in Copenhagen, Jon holds an M.A. in journalism from Aarhus University.

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