Belgrade Waterfront project, Serbia

The government ignored citizens' complaints and changed existing legislation to facilitate controversial “Belgrade Waterfront” that would transform Belgrade's neighborhood Savamala into a luxury district.


Savamala is a neighbourhood of Belgrade that stretches along the right bank of river Sava and it is part of the city's historic core. This area includes state-owned land containing a formerly industrial waterfront zone, old railway tracks, small businesses, 101 individual households, and football club established by railway workers. Since 2009, one part of “Savamala” have been transformed by community of young artists and students and now hosts many bars, galleries and cultural centres.

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Basic Data
NameBelgrade Waterfront project, Serbia
SiteBelgrade, Stari grad, Savamala
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Urban development conflicts
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific CommoditiesLand
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project Details180 m- height of the tower

1.8 km- length of Sava promenade

1.8-2 million m2 - office, commercial and residential space (60% of total project area),

6,000 apartments will host in total 14,000 people, while 12,700 people will be using business space,

370.000 m2 – size of green area (park), and

8 hotels with 2,200 rooms.

Restaurant “Savanova” occupies 670 m2, while shopping mall will occupy 140,000 m2.

An average price of apartments = 453.000 USD. Namely, 3,400 USD is the price of a single square foot of Waterfront residential property = 7 to 12 times the typical Serbian monthly salary.

It is calculated that the new luxury neighbourhood would need 25 million m3 of water and 100 megawatts electric energy daily, 40.000 parking places, and solution to disposal of 3 million m3 of excavated land.

The details of the contract published 150 days after signing revealed that the partners will provide 170 million USD, a much smaller sum than principally agreed, while Serbia will take out loans (from the same partner) of 550 million to 1 billion USD to invest in access roads and other infrastructure.
Project Area (in hectares)150
Level of Investment (in USD)4 billion
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population2.5 million
Start Date07/10/2014
Company Names or State Enterprises “Beograd na vodi d.o.o” from Serbia - Investor (32% of share)
Eagle Hills from United Arab Emirates - Investor (68% of share)
Relevant government actorsThe Government of the Republic of Serbia; The City of Belgrade
International and Financial InstitutionsEuropean Bank for Reconstruction and Development (ERBD) - ERBD loan approved to "Serbian Railways" will be used for displacement of railways and train station from the city center
Environmental justice organisations and other supporters"Ne da(vi)mo Beograd" civil initiative ( and;

Critical mass Belgrade (;

International Network for Urban Research and Action (; Serbian Academy of Architecture; international students, architects and other professionals.

Newspapers distribution partners: Knjižara Beopolis, galerija Remont, Nova iskra, društveni centar Oktobar, Centar za kulturnu dekontaminaciju, Magacin u Kraljevića Marka, kulturni centar Grad, REX, Kulturforum, Matrijaršija, Udruženje Učitelj neznalica, Kafe Tezga, Kafe Čilton, Kafe Petak, Kafe Kliše, Kafe Zaokret.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingLocal government/political parties
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow)
Potential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in violence and crime, Violations of human rights
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseMigration/displacement
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Development of AlternativesThe initiative “Ne da(vi)mo Beograd” suggest that “the plan should be cancelled, and a planned organization of the central zone of Belgrade should return to a legal planning procedure, with respect to professional standards of planning and implementation of mechanisms for the protection of public interest”. They ask for more transparency in the entire process, respect of laws, and participation of the whole society, as well as demand resignations of the directors of Republic agency for spatial planning and Urban Development Institute and the mayor of Belgrade. The citizens demand identification and punishment of the perpetrators of demolitions in Hercegovačka street, as well as the resignations of the city and police authorities who have not protected the inhabitants.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.So far the authorities have been completely ignoring all complaints of citizens, and appeals and arguments of experts including architects and lawyers. The project is ongoing.
Sources and Materials

Newspaper printed by "Ne da(vi)mo Beograd" number 2
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Analysis of the Belgrade Waterfront contract by "Ne da(vi)mo Beograd"
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Newspaper printed by "Ne da(vi)mo Beograd" number 1
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Alternative Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for Combating Corruption 2013 - 2018 and the Action Plan, CASE STUDY - The project "Belgrade on water" (pg. 2319
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Serbia: 20,000 protesters say 'NO' to controversial Belgrade Waterfront project
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Flats sale
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Open letter to the citizens of Belgrade by international scientists and experts in urban development and planning
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Ongoing construction works
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About Savamala
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About the project
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The last Savamala household standing
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Bus station demolition
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Layers against the project
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Facts about the project
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Belgrade waterfront - dark side behind urban renewal (in English)
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Disappearance of railway workers football club
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Civil movement against Belgrade Waterfront (in Italian)
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Private restaurant as the project exhibition area
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Professional opinion abouth the project by a sociologist
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Mayor on the mesaures used by the police
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Ombudsman suggests dismissal of the head of communal police
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Movement against Belgrade Waterfront (in Italian)
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On the procedure how to buy a flat in Belgrade Waterfront
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Luxury flats interiors
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International opinions
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Declaration by the Serbian Academy of Architecture
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International students on the Belgrade Waterfront (in English)
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Construction site and flood risks
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Belgrade gentrification (in English)
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Chronology of events (in English)
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Republic Agency for Spatial Planning report
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Cyclists' uprising against Belgrade Waterfront
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Evidence from the protest in front of Geozavod building
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"Belgrade Boat Carnival” incident
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Scanned contract
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Resignation of the presidency of the Urban Planners Association of Belgrade
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Thousands take part in protest over Savamala demolitions
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Serbs Protest Demolitions for UAE-Investment Project
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Serbian Protesters Say Authorities Were Behind Demolitions
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Serbs rally against shady demolitions after masked crew 'tied up witnesses'
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Media Links

Unsuccessful intent by "Insajder" journalist to interview "Beograd na vodi d.o.o" director
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Closer insight in the project development
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On Savanova restaurant/promo stand
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Banner at the 23rd International Salon of Urbanism
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Press conference on misuse of the initiative "Ne da(vi)mo Beograd" identity
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Protest report by the national TV station
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Video from "Belgrade Boat Carnival”
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Ute Lehrer (profesor at the York University) opinion (in English)
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Operation "Slauf" in Belgrade City Council
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Public debate in Center for cultural decontamination
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Other Documents

Protest in front of Geozavod- "Whose city? Our city!"
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Belgrade Boat Carnival The police preventing the initiative’s boat from continuing the parade
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Cyclists' uprising 51st Critical mass at the Belgrade Waterfront promenade
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Protest on June 11 More than 20,000 people in the protest walk
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Meta Information
ContributorJovanka Spiric, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at)
Last update20/06/2016