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Citizen protests block hotel expansion in heritage town

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Citizen protests block hotel expansion in heritage town
09:52 CET+01:00
Following a vigorous citizen protest, an historic hotel in Sweden's oldest town has been denied permission to expand. Sigtuna Stads Hotell in the thousand-year town of Sigtuna must content itself with just 26 rooms.

The decision was announced at the weekend by municipal authorities after considerable local protests from residents in the wealthy and historic town, regarded as a national heritage

Located not far from Stockholm-Arlanda Airport, Sigtuna is one of the few towns in Sweden dating from the Viking period that survived the ravages of 20th Century planners. So stringent are local regulations that contractors may not even consider building anything before an archaeological survey is conducted.

Sigtuna Stads Hotell along the shores of Lake Mälaren, built in 1909, has only 26 rooms, and describes itself as Sweden's smallest five star facility. The owner petitioned for expansion because of tourism. Sigtuna attracts international visitors, in addition to Swedes.

Sigtuna was founded more than 1,000 years ago during the pre-Christian period, and remained a prime royal and commercial center for more than 250 years. It is regarded as Sweden's capital during that period – bearing in mind that Sweden had not designated any town as “capital” at that time. Stockholm was named as official capital in 1634.

At the onset, every political party in the region approved the owner's request for expansion, except for the Green Party. Considerable citizen protests led to a change of heart by municipal authorities.

Sigtuna is regarded as an architectural gem, and a prized place for residents, most of whom are affluent. Perhaps not surprisingly, the royal mint was once located there.

Unlike most Swedish towns, many church and monastery ruins still remain, while the basic architecture of the core town is unchanged, bucking a trend experienced by many Swedish cities in the 19th and 20th centuries.

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