Belgrade – a city without a plan

By Sonja Ćirić

The president has already said what Belgrade will look like in 2027. It doesn’t matter that the city hasn’t had a General Spatial Plan for years because we know how it goes – locations should be made available everywhere for real estate developers to earn huge amounts of money.

We know that Belgrade is a big construction site as President Vučić and other officials have been reminding us of this every single day. On Saturday, we heard that Belgrade will become an even bigger construction site in the next four years.

And that, of course, is good. It leads us to the conclusion that there is plenty of money in Belgrade and there is a need for the announced stadiums and other investments, that is, all the prerequisites for the realization of the Serbia 2027 plan, which was announced on Saturday, have been met.

However, we all know they have not been met. Let’s mention just one prerequisite and that is the General Spatial Plan for Belgrade (GUP).

Belgrade has not had such a plan for three years. There is no umbrella document that determines the strategic goal of the city’s urban development, a document from which all other planning solutions derive, a document that has the status of law.

This means that everything that was built in Belgrade in the last three years was not built according to the law and it will remain so until the new General Spatial Plan is approved.

And that cannot happen overnight.

The last GUP was adopted by the Belgrade government 20 years ago, in 2003, and it expired in 2021. The new GUP came into force in 2019. In June 2022, the GUP was publicly displayed to the citizens of Belgrade for early public inspection and that was it.

Is that why the construction has been stopped because it is waiting for the GUP to be completed? No, it’s not! In Belgrade, buildings are built at every step regardless.

On Saturday, the president announced the vision of what Belgrade will look like by 2027. Considering that he does everything transparently and according to the law, and that he will, by no means, allow his vision not to have a legal basis, one can hope that the new GUP will be ready soon.

The question of what will Belgrade look like under the new GUP is redundant, not only because the president already gave us spoilers, but also because of the General Regulation Plan for Belgrade (PGR). This document was adopted in 2016 in order to allow real estate developers to build wherever and whatever they want.

The new GUP will only give a green light to everything that has already been built, although it should be the other way around.

Will the GUP, which was created based on the current situation in Belgrade, offer the Belgrade citizens what they need and what is good for them?

An insight into the GUP from June 2022 will give us an answer.

Namely, the 2022 GUP was a set of already implemented and harmful projects: Veliko Ratno Ostrvo (the Great War Island) became a commercial zone, the Hippodrome was moved, Kalemegdan was commercialized, higher education and health institutions were moved to the city periphery to free up their attractive locations for investors… It is obvious that the same concept is applied here – legalize everything that is currently being built without having proper legal documentation.

This includes the Belgrade Waterfront, Košutnjak, Makiško Polje, the Kalemegdan gondola Kalemegdan, the conversion of the Belgrade Fair and the demolition of a number of protected cultural assets to build new residential and business complexes, including the National Stadium and the Expo.

Before the councillors of the City Assembly approve the new GUP, the Belgrade citizens will be able to express their views on the GUP when it is put up for a public display, which is the only time that the citizens actually are included in the process.

It is important that citizens come and say what they want and don’t want.

​(, 23.01.2024)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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