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Jelka Piškurić, Phd
Study Centre for National Reconciliation

Ljubljana, Republika Slovenija

 

ILLEGAL CONSTRUCTION UNDER SOCIALISM: AN EXPRESSION OF NECESSITY, OPPOSITION OR CULTURAL NORMS?

Vol. XLI, 2/2023, pp. 401–416
https://doi.org/10.29362/ist20veka.2023.2.pis.401-416

 

ABSTRACT/RESUME:

The paper focuses on a small segment of everyday life under socialism – illegal construction in the area of Ljubljana and its rural surroundings. Through this example, it attempts to show the functioning of a socialist society and the discrepancy between state rules, i.e. housing policy, and people’s plans to achieve their particular interests within the socialist ideal of appropriate housing for everybody. Starting from the mid-1950s, urban planners were tasked with creating spatial and housing plans, first for Ljubljana and then gradually also for surrounding rural areas. Although the improvement of housing conditions was one of the Yugoslav social development priorities, it soon became apparent that the housing policy generated inequalities in access to state-built housing. Building an individual house on their own proved to be the only option of housing solution for many. This practice intensified in the second half of the 1960s. At the same time, we can observe an increase of illegal construction. In the early 1970s, the problem was already so significant that it often drew interest of the local authorities. They were concerned especially with lack of adequate infrastructure for these settlements, non-payment of utility charges by the inhabitants, as well as social problems in some of these settlements. In addition, unregulated growth of settlements often occurred on land reserved by the authorities for the construction of other infrastructure. The reasons for illegal construction were ranging from lengthy procedures and high costs for obtaining a building permit, lack of formal spatial planning that would enable legally permissible construction, to lower prices and quicker acquisition of privately owned land in non-building areas and areas unregulated by spatial plans. Some of the illegal construction can be linked to social problems, nonetheless, this type of construction also had its advantages, mainly demonstrated in lower construction costs and greater freedom in choosing the method and type of construction. The practice was also widespread in the construction of holiday cottages. Local authorities were aware of the multifaceted situation, but exercised ineffective control. They took down only a small part of illegal construction and tried to legalize the rest.

 

KEYWORDS: Socialism, Illegal Construction, Housing Policy, Urbanisation, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 1960s-1980s

 

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