4 October 2017 – Inmodiario
Section 3 of the Administrative Chamber of the High Court of Justice in Cataluña has upheld the appeal submitted against the approval of the agreement by the Town Hall of Barcelona of the Modification of the Special Plan for public establishments, hotels and other activities in Ciutat Vella and has annulled the obligation to obtain the withdrawal of one or more existing hotel licences equal in number to or exceeding the new hotel activity.
The legislation was approved by the CiU municipal government in July 2013 with the support of the PP. The aim, as the Town Hall explains in its argument against the appeal, was to maintain hotel beds, but relocate them within the district, to avoid over-concentration in specific areas.
The Town Hall alleges that the modification to the special plan for public establishments, hotels and other activities, whose articles 14 and 20 the TSJC has now annulled, is governed by urban planning criteria and not by economic or tourism policies, with the aim of achieving a better relationship between visitors and the resident population.
For the complainant, which owns several properties that it purchased to operate as hotels, the obligation to “withdraw” a number of licences equal to or exceeding the volume of the new hotel activity makes the implementation of these tourist establishments “prohibitive and unfeasible economically”.
In its opinion, the legislation affects the sphere of private relations and creates a “market for licences”, an argument that the court agrees with. The court highlights that it already annulled a similar ruling from 2010, which talked about the “renouncing” of licences rather than their “withdrawal”.
For TSJC, this change in nomenclature means “coining” a new term, which stands out due to its “vulgarity” and also generates “clear legal uncertainty”, since, in reality, it is a “non-specific legal term that is completely inscrutable”.
According to the court, the “poorly named withdrawal” continues to be just as illegal as the “renouncement”, and will only end up “making the market for licences more endogamic, if that’s possible”. That is because, according to the annulled regulations, someone can only access a hotel licence if they previously held one, which “drives a parallel and artificial market of licences and ownerships”, says the court.
Original story: Inmodiario
Translation: Carmel Drake