Valdebebas: Carmena Cuts 160 Homes & Insists On Social Housing

16 February 2017 – El Confidencial

Fewer homes and no unsubsidised properties. That is the condition that the Town Hall of Madrid has put on the table to unblock the “commercial pill” of Valdebebas, the last plot of land in the area that is still waiting to receive the necessary administrative and legal blessings before the cranes can move in.

On Tuesday, the Town Hall presented its buildable surface area and density proposals for the area, where 1,000 homes were going to be constructed on a plot that was initially going to house the largest shopping centre in Europe.

As expected, the Town Hall has reduced the buildable surface area, although by more than initially expected. Specifically, it has reduced the space allocated to residential use by 18,000 m2, an adjustment that affects almost all of the 14 plots (around 16,000 m2) that Pryconsa acquired from the Compensation Board last year.

The direct consequence of this change is that the company owned by the Colomer family is going to have to recalculate its figures and construct between 140 and 160 fewer homes. This represents a reduction of just over 15% compared to the number initially proposed, all of which were going to be social housing properties.

The other major loser under the Town Hall’s proposal is Premier, the owner of a plot of land allocated for unsubsidised housing, with a buildable surface area of almost 11,000 m2. The Town Hall has said that it must now build in accordance with some kind of protected housing scheme, as well as reduce its buildable surface area by 2,000 m2.

By contrast, the Joyfe College and the Valdecam Cooperative, which acquired land on which to construct 65 social housing properties, will not have to make any changes to their plans (…).

Next steps

After its meeting with the Town Hall on Tuesday, the Valdebebas Compensation Board, which represents almost 5,000 owners in the area, will present the Town Hall’s proposal to its governing board. That body, in which only large landowners participate, may opt to take a decision or may refer it to the assembly, so that all of the owners, and not just the large ones, take the decision.

The problem that the Compensation Board now faces is that it has to reduce the price at which it sold its plots to Pryconsa and Premier, given that the use and buildable surface area of those plots has been modified. This means that it will have fewer resources to allocate to all of the social service works – healthcare, education, sports facilities – that are required in the area. (…) This new proposal emerged after the ruling from the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid (TSJM) last year, which overturned the special plan for the area.

It is possible that the Compensation Board will reject the Town Hall’s plan and wait until the Supreme Court makes its ruling regarding the TSJ’s ruling. The problem is that, if it endorses the existing ruling, it will return to the initial situation, in other words, no homes will be built at all, given that the 109,000 m2 in this area were initially designated for the construction of a large shopping centre.

That would mean having to start conversations with the Town Hall from scratch, whereby further delaying the resolution of the problem. It would also have to deal with land buyers invoking clauses that allow them to break contracts and deprive the whole neighbourhood of a new school that the almost 10,000 residents are anxiously awaiting, given the lack of educational provisions in the area.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Ruth Ugalde)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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