Moscow City’s expansion to help create ‘polycentric environment’.

11/7 Tass 424

GORKI, Moscow region, July 11 (Itar-Tass) — Plans for Moscow City’s territorial expansion will help create a ‘polycentric urban development environment’ coupled with up-to-date standards of living, officials in the governments of Moscow City and Moscow region believe.

The main asset and promise of the new plan is that the relocation of the federal agencies of power, as well as the construction of the international financial center, university centers, healthcare and sports facilities, and residential housing districts on new lands will lift the problem of an excessive concentration of the population and workplaces in downtown Moscow.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and Moscow region Governor Boris Gromov presented a report on the plan to President Dmitry Medvedev Monday.

“A fundamentally new urban development strategy for the entire Moscow agglomeration will be created,” an author of the plan said. “It will offer harmonious development and comfortable living conditions to almost 20 million Muscovites and residents of the region.”

The developers of the plan recalled that Moscow City has seen several major expansions throughout its history.

For instance, from 1917 through to 1961 its boundary was marked off by the Smaller Railway Ring — a circular bypass railway line around the then outskirts of the city. The General Urban Development Plan adopted in 1935 presupposed a territory of 60,000 hectares with a population of around 3.5 million people.

With the commissioning of a larger Moscow Automobile Ring Road /MKAD/ in 1961, the city expanded to 88,000 hectares and its population succesively grew to 6 million.

At present, Moscow has a territory of 107,000 hectares, living on which is a population of about 11.5 million. The city has turned into one of the world’s most densely populated urban conglomerates where an average of 11,000 people live on an area of 1 square kilometer.

For comparison, the density of the population totals 4,000 people per sq km in Berlin and less than 7,000 people in Paris, London and New York City.

On the face of it, Moscow has one of the smallest housing provision rates among Russian regions — 19 square meters per person versus Russia’s average 22.8 sq m.

The authors of the program are confident on the whole that “the time requires a departure from the historical concept of a single city center and the adoption of a more polycentric structure that will ensure an even spread of the population and distribution of functions of city agencies.”

They note the practical exhaustion of resources for urban development within Moscow’s current boundaries, saying that “any large-scale construction within the current boundaries will bring about a radical worsening of the Muscovites’ quality of life and the ecological situation in the region.”

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