The Building Control Directorate in Bulgaria’s second city Plovdiv has cancelled a construction permit issued for the 8 Odrin Street former tobacco warehouse, the subject of an allegedly illegal demolition attempt in March 2016, prosecutors said on September 2.
The construction permit was issued by Plovdiv chief architect Roumen Roussev and was used to attempt demolition of the tobacco warehouse, in the city’s Tobacco Town, a precinct famed for its architecture and dating from the time in the early part of the 20th century when Plovdiv had a prominent place in the Balkan tobacco trade.
The March 2016 demolition attempt caused public outage and was stopped by authorities as residents of Plovdiv protested against the sloping of the historic warehouse.
The outrage flared again in August when fire gutted a complex of former tobacco warehouses not far from the Odrin Street site. A homeless man, Lyubomir Danchev, has been charged with arson. He denies wrongdoing.
In the case of the Odrin Street site, Roussev and the representative of the company that owns the building, Georgi Branekov, both face criminal charges. They deny wrongdoing. Prosecutors say that the investigation into the case is continuing.
The decision by the Plovdiv Building Control Directorate to cancel the permit issued by Roussev was the result of an approach by prosecutors.
Prosecutors said that the directorate accepted their argument that numerous violations had been committed of the Spatial Planning Act and the Cultural Heritage Act and that the permit had been issued without the mandatory consultation with the Ministry of Culture.
Prosecutors allege that Roussev had committed close to 60 breaches of the regulations.
Two building permits had been issued, for a building with offices, hotels, apartments, shops and underground parking, but had been granted in the absence of an investment and conceptual design and without co-ordination with the Ministry of Culture.
Branekov faces charges in connection with illegal activities in protected areas for the conservation of cultural heritage.
Prosecutor said that in search-and-seizure operations, they had found a certificate issued by the Ministry of Culture saying that the building did not have cultural value status and was outside the scope of the area of archaeological and architectural conservation. They allege that this document, twice used in documentation submitted to Plovdiv municipality, was fake. Branekov is charged with the use of forged documents, prosecutors said.
(Photo: The Odrin Street tobacco warehouse, the subject of a demolition attempt in March 2016, photographed in August 2016: (c) Clive Leviev-Sawyer)