Carmena’s New Housing Plan: Rezoning in Exchange for Subsidised Housing

8 February 2019

The Madrid City Council is offering to rezone an industrial plot as land to residential in exchange for “30%, 50% or 70%” use as social housing.

Madrid is now following in Ada Colau’s footsteps, asking for investments in social housing from private developers. The Madrid City Council will offer to rezone an industrial site on the condition that part of it is converted into subsidised housing (VPO). José Manuel Calvo, the Councillor for Sustainable Urban Development, announced the decision in an interview with EjePrime. The initiative is a reflection of the Madrid City Council’s desire to invest in social housing.

Since the public stock of homes began falling in 2010, the government in Madrid has been unable to return to the levels seen before the crisis. When Manuela Carmena arrived at City Hall, the municipality had less than 6,000 public housing units. The mayor committed to adding another 4,000, half of which has been achieved four months before the end of her term.

The City Council of Madrid is now offering to work with private developers to increase the public stock of housing during the next government mandate. The idea is to rezone industrial lands so that developers can build homes, a percentage of which would have to be allocated to subsidised housing.

Carmena’s government requires any plots of land for subsidised housing to be independent

“I can tell developers that I will rezone the land as residential and then ask for 30%, 50% or 70% [for subsidised housing],” says Mr Calvo. While the exact figures have yet to be determined, the City Council believes that the developers’ investments must be “profitable” while the “municipality wants to receive the greatest possible number of homes.”

Carmena also insists that any plots used for subsidised homes be independent to avoid the Ada Colau’s situation in Barcelona. Ms Colau wants to oblige developers to set aside 30% for social housing buy her “proposal has run into legal difficulties because the homes are owned ‘proindiviso’,” meaning that the City Council jointly runs the residential associations with the developers.

In such cases, “as an administration, maybe you need the housing for needy families and the community can deny it,” says Calvo. “The proposal in Barcelona does not work,” he concludes.

The councillor is suggesting an alternative to Ada Colau’s proposal

Colau’s proposal was approved in a plenary session of the Barcelona City Council last September, with favourable votes by all political parties except the Ciudadanos (Citizens) who abstained, and the PP, which voted against. According to the municipality’s forecasts, the monthly rent for social housing of about 80 square meters should be 512 euros or €136,000 to buy. Taking into account that 1,114 apartments are built each year, the City is planning on 334 new homes per year.

The City Council’s proposal was not well received by developers, who met that same week in a commission to study the measure. The Catalan Association of Developers (APCE) questioned the legality of the proposal and warned that it could mean an end to new developments.

Original Story: EjePrime – Marta Casado Pla

Translation: Richard Turner

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