Nine Projects Planned in Barcelona Will Increase Tourist Capacity

 

24 August 2017

Developers planning four hotels, three guesthouses, a hostel and a block of apartments have requested permits in peripheral areas, the only areas allowed by the Colau plan.

While still waiting to discover what impact the terrorist attack of the 17th will have on the tourism sector, Barcelona had attracted new hotel investments. The nine projects will provide 900 beds and the developments are planned in peripheral neighbourhoods, the only areas in which the tourist accommodation plan that came into effect at the beginning of 2017 permits new accommodations.

Since then, the City Council has received nine license applications for projects in these areas, which are necessarily less attractive, being far removed from the principal tourist areas. The municipality has concluded that the projects all comply with the new municipal regulations put in place by the current mayor, Ada Colau.

The projects include four hotels, three guesthouses, a block of tourist apartments and a hostel, as the deputy mayor of urbanism, Janet Sanz, told Expansión.

The exact location of the hotels has not yet been determined. The only specific details that the municipal government provided were that the projects will be in Sants-Montjuïc, Horta-Guinardó, Sant Andreu, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi and Nou Barris, which will receive a guesthouse.

The Barcelona City Council has not provided any further details to date, although industry sources have given additional information on some of these projects.

The hotel with the greatest number of rooms, 200, will have four stars and will be in the neighbourhood of La Marina, in the district of Sants-Montjuïc, next to the fairground of Gran Via, at 40 Calle Alts Forns.

Another hotel, which will have one star and 70 rooms, will be located at 250 Meridiana, in the Sant Andreu district, near the La Sagrera interchange.

The new tourist accommodation regulations came after a moratorium that was imposed by Ada Colau in July 2015, just after being elected mayor. The measure prevented further licensing of hotels throughout the city, something that will now only be allowed in peripheral neighbourhoods. However, there were 72 projects that managed to circumvent the new regulations, because they had already previously acquired a license or certificate. Of these 72 hotels, about thirty have been opened and are managed by chains such as H10, Núñez i Navarro, Princess and Accor.

The new regulation divides Barcelona into four zones. In the first, which covers the most central and tourist areas, a policy of “de-growth” has been established: not only will new licenses not be granted, but, if one establishment closes, it cannot be replaced by another.

Zone 2, a first belt around the centre, is subject to a policy of “maintenance”: that is, no new accommodations will be created, but if an establishment closes, another would be allowed to take its place.

The growth of hotel spaces, in a “contained” way, will only be permitted in Zone 3. Projects must also meet other requirements, such as being located on wide streets and not exceeding a certain density threshold. The municipality will ascertain whether each project complies with regulations and if this is the case, it guarantees that the processing of the application will go forward. In Zone 3, regulations that are specific to the historical centres of the old municipalities that were eventually incorporated into Barcelona must also be considered.

Finally, Zone 4 includes three developing neighbourhoods that will also have their own urban regulations. They are La Marina, the future AVE station in La Sagrera and its surroundings, and the Poblenou neighbourhood, where the 22@ district was launched 15 years ago.

The effects of the plan

The tourism sector has assessed the Colau plan from different points of view. Initially, it opposed the plan, although the Barcelona Hotel Association has since softened its position because one of the effects of the regulations is that existing hotels will have much less competition.

Juan Gallardo, of Bric Consulting, predicts that, if the city maintains its attractiveness as a tourist destination, the plan could imply “a price increase”, which would be added to the price increases that occurred because of the moratorium.

The new regulation has been the subject of a total of 17 contentious-administrative appeals in the courts, although only one of them is demanding compensation from the municipality. If rulings are declared that are contrary to the Colau plan, the city council could be forced to rectify the plan and elaborate new regulations. The Barcelona Hotel Association is the author of one of the appeals because it believes that the regulatory reforms would force hotels in the centre of Barcelona that undertake renovations to reduce the number of rooms, which would condemn them to decline and eventual “decadence”, Gallardo pointed out.

Original Story: ProOrbyt Expansion – David Casals

Translation: Richard Turner

Colau Wants To Turn Tourist Flats Into Social Housing

7 August 2015 – Expansión

Tourism in Barcelona / Colau will forgive 80% of the fines imposed on the most centrally-located unlicenced apartments if their owners agree to allow the properties to be used by the town hall (for social housing) for three years.

Curbing tourist “speculation” was one of the most-repeated slogans quoted by Ada Colau, the mayoress of Barcelona, during her election campaign. After suspending the opening of new hotels and hostels for a whole year across the entire city, now it is the turn of a new battery of measures, which will affect a key sector for the Catalan capital’s economy, tourism.

On Wednesday, the town hall reported that it is going to launch a pilot plan in the Ciutat Vella district – the most central area of the city – aimed at the owners of unlicenced tourist apartments who have been fined repeatedly in recent years.

In exchange for writing off 80% of their cumulative fines, the town hall will offer them the opportunity to place their apartments at the disposal of the town hall for a period of three years, which will then award them to families in situations of social emergency under rental agreements. If owners grant their properties for a longer period, then the town hall may write off 100% of their fines. Once the fines have been repaid, the apartment owners will receive the rent directly from the families.

From 15 September, the town hall will start to inform fined owners about this option for dealing with their penalties.

For the time being, the initiative will focus on 330 property owners, whose fining procedures have been completed. There are more illegal apartments whose penalties are still being processed, but for now the initiative will not affect them. On average, fines amount to €15,000 per property owner, but according to the law, they may reach up to €90,000.

As part of its measures to combat the new “speculative bubble”, the town hall has also announced that it will fine any digital platforms that advertise tourist flats without a licence from September.

The town hall explicitly cited two websites that account for 80% of the supply, Airbnb and Booking, and asked them to provide information to identify the apartments they advertise, so that checks can be completed to see which properties have licences and which do not.

Ada Colau’s team also warned the online platforms that they should include the licence numbers of the apartments they advertise. If they do not collaborate, they will be subject to significant fines, in accordance with the ruling legislation. They also stated that not all illegal apartments have been fined yet due to a lack of “political will”.

Reactions

The platform Airbnb said in a statement that the fines that have been announced “create confusion” and represent “a step back” in terms of the regulation of the sector.

The opposition parties, CiU and PP described the measures announced as “smoke (and mirrors)” and accused Colau of taking decisions for show (i.e just for the sake of being seen to do something) and C’s asked the town hall not to “blackmail” property owners. ERC rejected the idea to write off fines because it “rewards” those who have not held licences for years. The PSC saw the announcement as a positive move, but called for more inspections.

Original story: Expansión (by David Casals)

Translation: Carmel Drake