Despite protests by citizens and celebrities including former Abba star Benny Andersson, Stockholm’s city council voted on Monday night to move forward with a massive renovation of the city’s Slussen area following a lengthy and at times heated debate.
“This is a historic decision that has been taken. I want Slussen to be a place where people want to spend more than ten minutes,” said Moderate council member Regina Kevius, deputy mayor for city planning and sports, to the TT news agency.
However, opposition members of the Stockholm council remained convinced the plan would be appealed.
Outside the city council’s meeting, more than one hundred people had gathered on Monday evening in a last ditch effort to halt plans to renovate Slussen, a central area of Stockholm named after the locks between Lake Mälaren and the Baltic Sea that was last made over in 1935.
Former Abba frontman Benny Andersson was among those working to put a stop to the planned renewal of Slussen, a project which has been debated in the Swedish capital for years, and which took on new life in 2009 when the city announced a new design for the busy transit and pedestrian link between Stockholm’s Old Town and the island of Södermalm.
The new design would remove many of the existing roads and create several new blocks of buildings close to the waterfront.
Not even Andersson’s pledge to reunite his former Swedish super group was enough to sway enough politicians to defeat the measure authorizing the Slussen project to go forward.
“It didn’t go well at all,” Andersson told the Expressen newspaper of his attempts to bring Kevius around to his point of view on the issue.
“She didn’t want to listen to anything I had to say, but instead answered with a stock phrase, ‘I hear what you’re saying, but I’m going to vote for the existing proposal.’”
After several hours of debate, the council eventually voted in favour of the controversial plan to renovate Slussen.
The opposition attempted to stop the measure by submitting a motion requesting it be sent back for further debate, but the motion was voted down 51-48.
Construction on the “new Slussen” is expected to start in 2013 and by completed by 2020.
But Social Democrat vice mayor Tomas Rudin is convinced the plan will be appealed.
“I already know of several groups that are going to appeal,” he told TT.
He criticized the fact that such a major decision passed with such a slim majority.