Madrid’s Town Hall is Blocking 105,000 New Homes in SE of the Capital

11 December 2017 – Idealista

Madrid has the potential for a large urban development at its disposal in the form of the PAUs located in the southeast of the city, covering a surface area of almost 37 million m2 and with the capacity for the construction of up to 105,000 new homes over the next 15 years. The plans have already been sketched out, and they have been approved by the Supreme Court, but clashes between property developers/landowners and the Town Hall led by Manuela Carmena have frozen the permits and licences for completing the development of the area and, therefore, the construction of affordable new homes, which are so necessary and so sought-after in the city.

The most worrying thing is not that the future of so many thousands of homes is up in the air, but rather that they are homes that would go to middle-class families and vulnerable groups: primarily young people and people with limited purchasing power, through social housing schemes, and with prices ranging between €160,000 and €240,000. Los Berrocales, Los Ahijones, Valdecarros and Los Cerros, known in the real estate sector as land destined for the construction of the most affordable housing in Madrid, are PAUs that find themselves on this journey through a desert. And the impasse has already lasted for more than a decade.

The strategy for the southeast started to take shape with the PGOU of 1997, under the PP Government when José María Álvarez del Manzano was the mayor, with the intention of joining together all of the potential in the towns to the south of Madrid, such as Getafe, Leganés, Alcorcón and Móstoles, with the Corredor del Henares.

After completing the PAUs policy in the north of Madrid, with Sanchinarro, Montecarmelo and Las Tablas, and also the PAU of Carabanchel in the 1990s, the municipal border of Madrid was reaching its limit in terms of developable land capacity. To the north, expansion had already reached Alcobendas and San Sebastián de los Reyes; to the west, the buildable land in Madrid was already bordering on Pozuelo and Majadahonda; and in the south, the PAU of Carabanchel already reached Alcorcón and Getafe. The only free area left in the capital was to the east.

And so the initiative to develop the southeast of the capital was launched, although it has been suspended for years by the courts and has been held back by the economic crisis. But now, when the economy has started to recover and the Supreme Court has approved the project, the building work has come up against a new problem: the position of the Municipal Government.

What is the problem?

(…) The Town Hall believes that the urban development proposal for the southeast does not meet the current needs of the city. The first main stumbling block is over the number of homes to be built.

Although the Supreme Court gave the green light in September last year to the plans that involve the construction of 104,737 homes, of which approximately 53% would have some degree of protection (subsidy), as well as to the building of offices and industrial warehouses (35% of the surface area will be destined to those developments), Manuela Carmena’s team considers that the capital will not have sufficient demand to justify the construction of so many homes (…).

Specifically, the Town Hall calculates that the city will have demand for approximately 6,000 homes per year over the next few years – that figure is well below those forecast by other researchers in the market. The IESE business school, for example, estimates that the Community of Madrid will need more than 25,000 homes per year until 2025, at least (…), a figure that falls to 12,000-13,000 in the case of the capital itself (…).

Another reason that the municipal government cites against the progress of these urban developments is that the city still has a significant stock of empty homes. But, again, research and official figures exist that call into question its claims (…).

The discussions are set for the long-haul.

A 10-year paralysis that could go on for another 10 years

(…) “Regardless, if we suppose that we obtain the necessary licences and that construction starts immediately, the first homes would not be ready to be handed over until 2022-2023. If to that timeframe, we add the years needed to change the General Plan (PGOU), in the end, we are going to be talking about another decade gone to waste”, said Javier López Linares, Manager of the PAU for Los Cerros (…).

Original story: Idealista (by Ana P. Alarcos, David Marrero and Alejandro Soto)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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