PM Vanhanen’s idea of garden village metropolis in Helsinki region gets a battering
Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen’s (Centre Party) vision of a dispersed land use model, in which people live in small garden-type areas close to their jobs and services, was rejected by other members of the government coalition as well as by the opposition parties.at a panel discussion arranged on Wednesday by the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.
Vanhanen has defended a network of garden metropolises, opposing the idea that dense residential areas in the Helsinki region are possible only near train or Metro stations.
”Should new construction take place only along rail or Metro lines?” Vanhanen wondered aloud on Wednesday.
”I do not understand this discussion. Should peripheral construction be forbidden? Is it permissible to build in Espoo?” the PM warmed to his task.
Vanhanen pointed out that buses are also part of public transport, and not only trains.
”The garden city model is based primarily on private cars. In practice, families would need to have two cars”, said Jutta Urpilainen, the chair of the opposition Social Democratic Party.
Jyrki Katainen, the chairman of the National Coalition Party, chose a more conciliatory approach, speaking about ”smart zoning”. ”In order that needless travelling could be minimized.”
Anni Sinnemäki, the chair of the Green League parliamentary group, said flatly that zoning should be concentrated along rail or Metro lines. ”The Prime Minister’s dispersed model was a stupid proposal”, she charged.
Vanhanen’s metropolis of garden villages was also dismissed by Martti Korhonen, the chairman of the Left Alliance, who added that people cannot afford to live anywhere if the number of rental homes is not increased.
”If environment is the government’s primary concern, construction of dense residential areas should be part of that”, said Korhonen.
Sinnemäki called for a rail line to Sipoo, while Stefan Wallin, the chairman of the Swedish People’s Party, was concerned about the destruction of the Finnish-Swedish cultural heritage.
”When the decision to annex the southwest of Sipoo to Helsinki was made, a promise was given to respect the cultural heritage”, Wallin noted.
Vanhanen said that according to his vision, as many people as possible could attend to their everyday matters within a walking or cycling distance from home.
”It means decentralization”, Vanhanen pointed out, repeating his claim that the construction of a ring railway that would bypass the centre of Helsinki and the westward extension of the Helsinki Metro would not significantly advance the attainment of Finland’s greenhouse gas emission targets.
Urpilainen and Korhonen observed that as a result of the government’s stinginess, bus services would have to be reduced by hundreds of departures.
”Why does the government want to reduce bus services if you have a particular regard for them?” Urpilainen asked Vanhanen.
Vanhanen reported that a total of EUR 5 million has been allocated to the public transport of large cities in the budget, which Korhonen scoffed at as a near-ridiculous sum.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Vanhanen calls for “garden metropolis” in Helsinki region (8.9.2008)
Helsinki gets go-ahead to annex southwest Sipoo (15.1.2008)
The Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities