14 September 2016 – Expansión
Antonio Béjar, the Chairman of Distrito Castellana Norte, the company owned by BBVA and Sanjosé, has criticised Manuela Carmena’s team for “turning their backs on locals” and not thinking about Madrilenians.
Operación Chamartín reached a deadlock in May, when the Town Hall of Madrid, with votes from Ahora Madrid and PSOE, decided to deal a blow to Distrito Castellana Norte’s project and present an alternative option, which is unlikely to prosper, as it faces the outright refusal of the Community of Madrid and the Ministry of Development.
One of the biggest victims in this lethargy is DCN, which has seen how a project that had been fallow for decades and that seemed to be on the verge of progressing, following the approval of the final general town plan (PGOU) and the apparent acceptance of the parties involved, is now in danger of becoming little more than ink and paper following the arrival of Manuela Carmena’s municipal government.
Despite the circumstances, the Chairman of DCN, Antonio Béjar (pictured above), said in an interview with Expansión, that he feels “more encouraged than ever”. “This is an initiative that affects 500,000 people (i.e. the citizens who live in and around the affected areas). “We have always thought that it would be impossible to undertake this project behind people’s backs. For this reason, right from the start, we employed means and made efforts to get people to participate and contribute ideas”, explained Béjar.
The Director also explained that, in the face of the flood of suggestions and information requests received, they decided to open an office in Fuencarral a few months ago, and they plan to open at least two more – in Las Tablas and Chamartín – with the aim of maintaining an “open and permanent dialogue with people”. Béjar hopes that the municipal Government will reconsider its decision given the response from locals. “The Town Hall’s blockade against our project is very unpopular”, he said.
Similarly, the Chairman of DCN hopes to be able to resume talks with the Town hall and the other bodies involved to remedy the situation and whereby share the property developers “negotiating spirit”. Nevertheless, he warns that red lines exist, which are not going to be ignored. “We are not willing to be the sponsor of a project that lacks ambition or is associated with low quality. Moreover, we represent investors that have a duty to not, cannot and will not invest in projects that do not have appropriate returns”.
For the Director, the plan proposed by the Town Hall is a “very poor initiative”. “The administrations do not have the resources necessary to cover works that require billions of euros. They propose that the public sector bears the business risk, either through taxes or other items of social spending and they force citizens to pretend that they are entrepreneurs”.
Béjar fears that the unmovable attitude of the Town Hall will continue, at least until a new national Government is formed. “Political priorities should not take precedence over technical matters. We have not even been allowed to negotiate with the Town Hall”.
In the same way, he points out that the concession of land from Adif expires on 31 December and that the option to extend the period “is not currently on the table”. “We cannot keep investing forever without any signs of returns”, he noted.
Original story: Expansión (by Rebeca Arroyo)
Translation: Carmel Drake