Berlin to hold referendum on plans to build housing in vacant Tempelhof airport grounds

Voters in Berlin will have their say on plans to build apartments on part of the vacant grounds of the former Tempelhof airport, the hub of the 1948-49 Berlin Airlift.

The airport in the heart of the German capital was built in the 1920s and closed in 2008. Berliners have embraced the vast empty space of its former runways as a kind of anarchic recreation ground.

Officials said Tuesday that campaigners opposing the local government's housing plans have collected enough signatures to force a binding referendum by June 1.

Berlin has seen large-scale redevelopment since German reunification in 1990.

On Monday, officials announced that a firm led by American architect Frank Gehry has won a competition to build Germany's tallest residential building close to former East Berlin's landmark TV tower.