STA, 3 January 2019 - A project to revamp a rundown sports stadium in Ljubljana (Centralni stadion Bežigrad) that was designed by Slovenia's best known architect Jože Plečnik appears to be dead after the investor pulled out following more than a decade of tug-of-war with the opponents of the project.
The Bežigrad Sports Park (BŠP) company, the special purpose vehicle established by one of the wealthiest Slovenians, Joc Pečečnik, in cooperation with the Ljubljana city authorities and the Slovenian Olympic Committee, has withdrawn its request for the environmental consent for the renovation, the Environment Agency has confirmed for the STA.
According to the Environment Agency, the investor requested to be removed from procedure on 21 December. The procedure was stopped on 28 December giving all the parties 15 days to appeal the decision, the agency added.
The news first broke as the civil initiative that has been campaigning for the preservation of Plečnik's stadium in its original form announced on Thursday that the investor had withdrawn its request for the environmental consent, a precondition for a building permit.
The initiative welcomed the decision, labelling the move a sign that the project is now dead and buried.
According to the initiative, the investor too must have realised that the project was unacceptable because it would have caused environmental damage as well as destroy Plečnik's heritage. Pečečnik, the main investor, was unavailable for comment today.
The group hopes this will pave the way for a new solution that would restore the stadium to its original form, so it could be used for recreational sports and various events.
The stadium in the Ljubljana Bežigrad borough was designed by Jože Plečnik (1872-1957) in 1923. Built in several phases, its covered landmark VIP box was not added until 1935.
It was closed down for renovation in 2008, about the same time when the Stožice sports complex, also featuring a new stadium, was built on the outskirts of Ljubljana.
The investors had to fight off opposition from the get go, with the latest blow coming in late 2017, when the Environment Ministry again retracted the environmental consent, previously granted by the Environment Agency, upon an appeal by the civil initiative.