picture of protests in the Buda Castle

The Twenty-Two Architects Group and the STOP Priority Investments Action Group held a demonstration on Friday protesting planned large development projects in the Buda Castle, reports Mérce.

The demonstration focused on halting reconstruction work that has been going on for years in the Castle District, including the rebuilding of Archduke Joseph’s Palace and the Defense High Command in Saint George Square, the expansion of the National Archives building, the renovation of the new headquarters of the Ministry of Finance on Trinity Square, and a new underground garage to be built on castle grounds.

What all of these development projects have in common is that they are being built as “investments of national economic importance” under the National Hauszmann Program, allowing the government to decide on their implementation through government decree that excludes the involvement of local municipalities and authorities.

Whether it’s modernizing Groupama Arena, developing a luxury beach on Kopaszi Dam or constructing the planned Budapest campus of Fudan University, the government has used the “priority” designation to carry out its plans in scandal-plagued projects despite public resistance, the civil society groups claim.

Those who gathered in Buda Castle specifically spoke out against elements of the government’s priority development projects that lacked architectural input and excluded civil society interests, as well as the reduction of green areas that is expected to accompany construction. The civil organizations also called upon the government to immediately suspend all large development projects in the castle.

Prior to the demonstration, civil groups held a professional forum on the constructions taking place in the castle, where Párbeszéd politician Márta V. Naszályi, the mayor of Budapest’s District I, also spoke.

According to Naszályi, details of these projects are kept secret, and as the government wields the power to overrule decisions by local municipalities, it sends the message to the locals who live there that their interests do not matter.

[Mérce][Photo: Mérce / Facebook]

By Steven N.

Steven is the editor-in-chief of Hungarian Politics. He has been following the political scene in Hungary and the Central European region more or less since 1994.