Valdebebas: Supreme Court Ruling Undermines Construction Plans

28 March 2016 – El Confidencial

Madrid’s High Court of Justice (TSJM) has dealt another fatal blow to the PAU real estate developments of Ciudad Aeroportuaria and Parque Valdebebas, the area in the north of the capital, where around 12,000 homes are expected to be built. According to a ruling on 4 March, the Administrative Litigation Division has partially accepted the appeal filed by the Association for Responsible Urban Development and has declared null and void the Special Land Sub-division Plan.

The decision by the First Section of the TSJM’s Administrative Litigation Division, chaired by Francisco Javier Canabal, overthrows the approval agreed by the Town Hall of Madrid on 30 October 2014, which modified the detailed plan APE 16.11 for the Ciudad Aeroportuaria and Parque Valdebebas. Although the Town Hall, now chaired by Manuela Carmena, the Community of Madrid, led by Cristina Cifuentes, and the Valdebebas Compensation Board called for the dismissal of the appeal presented in February 2015, the fact is that the ruling calls into question the urban development once again even though it had already been approved by the various administrations.

The plaintiffs allege that the Special Plan, dated 30 October 2014, modified the buildability of the area to include a large shopping centre in the development, with the allocation of space amounting to 145,794 m2 and an annex to it, measuring 36,488 m2 for other tertiary use. The Court emphasised that the Association “was right” when it said that this plan “modifies the structural organisation”, since land transformation operations inherently require an appropriate relationship between public space and collective amenities, and population density. (…).

The Town Hall and Community of Madrid must now decide whether to submit an appeal against this decision, a position that is difficult to adopt given that the new heads of Ahora Madrid and the PP in the aforementioned institutions have inherited a lawsuit fought by their predecessors, Ana Botella and Ignacio González. Moreover, they should take into account that in May the resolution is expected of a previous appeal against improprieties conducted by the Town Hall of Madrid, with the correction of the General Urban Plan (PGOU) approved in August 2013, an emergency action through which the Town Hall corrected the legality of Valdebebas, which had been suspended months earlier, following a ruling issued by the Supreme Court in September 2012.

Pryconsa, in question

But, the factor that calls everything into question, above all, are the plans of Pryconsa, which in December 2015, purchased 14 plots of land from the Valdebebas Compensation Board for €56.7 million. It acquired 92,000 m2 of buildable land, where it plans to build between 900 and 1,000 social housing properties (VPPL). Pryconsa paid just over approximately €600/m2 for the land, a price that is significantly below the €800/m2 that the Compensation Board obtained for one of the VPPL plots that it put up for auction after the summer and which was sold to the cooperative Esta Gestión 100, backed by the architect Enrique Toboada.

That operation ate up the last residential land assets owned by the Compensation Board and practically used up all of the land allocated to social housing in this urban development, given that now less than 5,000 m2 of land remains available. Moreover, following the transaction, only one third of the residential land is available in this area. The plots awarded are located next to one of the main squares in the new neighbourhood, close to the future shopping centre and JOYFE school, whose land also formed part of the assets sold by the Compensation Board, and where construction work is expected to begin soon.

Following the TSJM’s decision, all of these plans have been thrown back up in the air, a real setback for the developers that have bought land in this area of Madrid, located to the south of La Moraleja neighbourhood and to the north of the IFEMA exhibition grounds.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Agustín Marco)

Translation: Carmel Drake