24 November 2017 – El Confidencial
Ciudadanos has decided to block one of the most important urban planning operations left to be developed in the Community of Madrid, specifically, in the town of Alcobendas (114,000 residents). On Friday, the PP, which has a minority government, submitted a new attempt to the Urban Planning committee to approve the partial plan for Los Carriles, a new neighbourhood where the plan is to build 8,600 homes. The PP, with 12 councillors, who have been trying to get this project off the ground for years, do not have support from the majority opposition parties – PSOE, IU, UPYD and Sí se Puede—, which comprise another 12 councillors.
The decision lies in the hands of Ciudadanos (three councillors). Previously, those party members supported the PP’s plans (…) but they decided to vote against the project in the meeting on Friday and will do so again in the plenary session on Tuesday. (…). This new block puts in limbo the development of 2,172,909 m2 of land (5% of the surface area of Alcobendas) and business of around €2 billion.
The owners of the affected land include the town hall, the Archdiocese of Madrid and several landowners from the municipality, such as the Serrano Alberca family and the company San José del Taller de Nazaret, which owns 320,691 m2 of land, making it the largest individual landowner in this sought-after development.
A lot of money and a lot of interests have been buried in Los Carriles for 14 years now, waiting for the various political parties to reach an agreement. The initial idea for this development arose under the Socialist Government of José Caballero, who, in 2003, backed by the IU, started the first version of the project, which included 14,000 homes, 50% of which were due to be social housing properties. Nevertheless, that project never received the blessing of the regional Government, led at the time by Esperanza Aguirre.
Four years later, the PP took over the town hall once again and started a new plan, but with 40% fewer homes (8,600 in total). (…). But, even though the PP had an absolute majority in Alcobendas and in the Community of Madrid for many years, the project never ended up being finalised. (…) until September 2016 when the PP found an unexpected ally, the only councillor from Izquierda Unida.
The plenary for this month was called to approve the partial plan, which increased the number of social housing properties to 3,870. But the Madrilenian management of the IU did not support its councillor and he had to back down in the end. It was then that Ciudadanos called the project an “urban planning outrage”. “We do not support it. There is no sufficient demand for 9,000 homes. We do not want to build up Alcobendas to the hilt” (…).
In the face of the block, the PP decided to create a working group to try to reach an agreement, focusing in particular on Ciudadanos, its investiture partner.
In the end, after much too-ing and fro-ing, the agreement was signed between Ciudadanos and PP (…). The PP says that it has started to fulfil the agreement (…) but Ciudadanos does not see it like that (…) and has accused the PP of cheating them. “The matter has reached the Assembly of Madrid this week and, there, the Director General of Urban Planning in the Community of Madrid has explained that the partial plan does not comply with the law (…).
As a result, Los Carriles is going to continue in a dry ditch. Moreover, Sí se Puede and environmental groups say that the planned development is going to harm the ecosystem in Valdelatas, where there are a lot of oak trees and a sizeable population of wild boars. The project includes plans to build 800 luxury homes next to the regional park, a protected space. Without forgetting that the plan’s mobility study reveals that the new neighbourhood will add 156,932 daily journeys to the municipality, of which more than 95,000 would be in private vehicles. That would collapse the area even further (the exit to the north of Madrid from the A-1) which already suffers from serious traffic problems.
Original story: El Confidencial (by David Fernández and Ruth Ugalde)
Translation: Carmel Drake