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Struggle over Bratislava’s PKO sharpened - (video included)

DEVELOPER Henbury Development has stopped demolition of the Culture and Leisure Park (PKO) building in Bratislava which it had started in the early morning of April 14, the SITA newswire reported. Representatives of the City of Bratislava claim the demolition works came as a surprise to them. Bratislava Mayor Andrej Ďurkovský said he immediately asked the developer to halt demolition.

DEVELOPER Henbury Development has stopped demolition of the Culture and Leisure Park (PKO) building in Bratislava which it had started in the early morning of April 14, the SITA newswire reported. Representatives of the City of Bratislava claim the demolition works came as a surprise to them. Bratislava Mayor Andrej Ďurkovský said he immediately asked the developer to halt demolition.

The works were eventually stopped at 10 am on April 14, just a couple of hours after they had begun, but only on the condition that the demolition permit, which was issued to the developer and was valid until April 19, would be prolonged.

The demolition works were officially cancelled on April 15, after the Mayor of the Staré Mesto district of Bratislava signed a prolongation of the demolition permit for the developer. The windows and doors that had already been demolished will be replaced by Henbury Development, SITA reported. As a result, production of cultural events such as the popular TV show Let’s Dance or the Spring Bratislava Jazz Days are no longer threatened.

Thanks to the prolongation, the city council will now get more time to find an adequate substitute for the present PKO, where most major cultural events currently take place. The investor is willing to wait until the end of 2011, when the prolonged demolition permit expires. Henbury Development intends to build a new cultural and congress centre on the site of the present PKO.

Henbury Development bought the PKO site in 2005 for €9.33 million from the City of Bratislava and had been renting it back to the city for a symbolic Sk1 (€0.033) per year. The rental agreement expired at the end of March 2009 and since then the city has been using the premises without a contract. After pressure from the public as well as from civic activists the mayor stated in March 2009 that the City wanted to buy the premises back, but the developer was only willing to sell it for €24.7 million, which city representatives found unacceptable. Therefore, the city and the developer had planned to meet to negotiate the future of PKO, but the developer started demolition before a date for the meeting was set, SITA wrote.

Henbury Development, the owner of the premises of the Culture and Leisure Park in Bratislava (PKO), started demolishing the buildings there on Tuesday, April 14.

“I myself am curious as to what is actually happening here, what kind of game is being played by the city and the owner of the premises and what action the municipality will take,” Lubica Trubiniova from the civic initiative Bratislava Otvorene (Bratislava Open), which has worked to save PKO, told Sme TV as she observed the demolition works. She called the step absolute arrogance and cynicism on the part of the owner. She also criticised the council for its benevolent attitude towards the actions of developers in the capital, adding that they frequently build at any price, even destroying green areas within the city.

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