Barcelona Reserves 8 Plots on which to Build 512 Social Housing Units

17 January 2019 – La Vanguardia

Barcelona is going to reserve eight plots on which to build around 512 social housing units for young people, the elderly and other groups with social needs, together with public facilities, through a Modification of the General Metropolitan Plan (MPGM).

The Town Hall of Barcelona’s Commission for Ecology, Urban Planning and Mobility approved the revised MPGM to incorporate those 8 plots into the social housing system yesterday, with votes in favour from the municipal government, the Demòcrata, ERC and CUP groups, and the unassigned councillors Gerard Ardanuy and Joanjo Puigcorbé. There were abstentions from Cs, PSC and PP.

According to a statement from the town hall, the plots are located in Gràcia (2), Ciutat Vella (2), Eixample (2), Sants-Montjuïc (1) and Horta-Guinardó (1).

Four of the plots are owned in their entirety by the municipality, whilst the town hall will acquire the two that are completely private as well as the private plot of another site of which it is only part owner.

The eighth plot is on Via Laietana, 8-10, and currently houses the headquarters of the National Institute of Statistics and the Electoral Census Office, which is owned by the Town Hall of Barcelona and several other public administrations.

Specifically, this new plan proposes incorporating the plots into the housing system, which also includes plans for facilities on the ground floors.

The procedure is based on the fact that the law allows a maximum of 5% of land classified as local public facilities to be dedicated to social housing.

On the basis of the land that this MPGM is activating, the actions carried out and/or forecast in the current plan represent approximately 2.81% of the plots only, according to reports from the Town Hall.

This MPGM now enters a period of public consultation for one month and so its provisional approval in the Plenary of the Municipal Council and definitive approval by the Sub-Committee for Urban Planning in Barcelona, a body of La Generalitat, could be completed before the end of the mandate of the mayor Ada Colau.

This is the second MPGM that the municipal government has carried out in the current mandate to activate plots to build social housing.

In December 2016, the Town Hall approved a first plan that reserved six plots for the development of 519 homes. Specifically, two of those were located in Gràcia, two in Sant Martí, one in Sants-Montjuïc and another in Horta-Guinardó.

Original story: La Vanguardia 

Translation: Carmel Drake

30% of the New Builds in Barcelona’s 22@ District will be Social Housing Units

19 November 2018 – La Vanguardia

The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, neighbourhood organisations and economic and social change agents have signed an agreement to modify the 22@ district, to provide it with more social housing and public transport and to avoid the gentrification of the neighbourhood. In this way, the main transformation will be that the percentage of land reserved for social housing in the northern area of the Catalan capital will increase from 10% to 30%. And most of that will be rental housing, although the plan is to also grant some land to cooperatives and social entities so that they can build protected flats in another form. Similarly, The Town Hall wants the 22@ district to be a space for trials and experimentation in the search for solutions to issues relating to housing and mobility.

The 22@ district comprises 200 hectares in Barcelona, which started to be transformed in the year 2000 and which has turned Poblenou into a hub for small and large technological companies. It is a model for long-term success that is now going to change its strategy to obtain a mixture of uses between tertiary and residential. For that reason, on the 80 hectares that are still left to be developed – above La Diagonal – the surface area dedicated to public housing is going to be increased. In total, between 5,000 and 6,000 new flats will be constructed in the space.

Ada Colau has highlighted the critical efforts that many players have made to be able to sign the document that reviews the 22@ district after 18 years of development. “It is a transcendental agreement for the city. Technological innovation is not enough to make a city”, said the mayor. In this sense, she highlighted the importance of building more housing to bring life to the neighbourhood.

The agreement that has been signed this morning establishes two areas within the technological district that will require Modifications to the General Metropolitan Plan in order to carry out the new transformation. On the one hand, the neighbourhoods of Provençals del Poblenou and Maresme, and on the other hand, the areas of Bogatell, Trullàs and Plata del Poblenou. Whilst in the first spaces, the idea is to obtain an equilibrium between offices and housing, increasing the land available for the construction of public homes, in the second, the plan is to declassify the whole area to preserve the old fabric of Poblenou. The experts understand that these buildings, due to their morphology, are not ideal for housing technological activities (…).

Original story: La Vanguardia (by Silvia Angulo)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Colau Creates Register of Empty Plots to Expropriate them in Two Years time

21 August 2018 – Eje Prime

Ada Colau has laid down the law regarding a topic that is affecting the real estate market in Barcelona. The mayor of the Catalan capital has signed a decree to create a municipal register of the empty plots in the city so that they may be expropriated in the event that no activity is undertaken on them in the next two years. The decision was announced on Tuesday by the Deputy Mayor for Urban Planning, Janet Sanz.

The measure could start to be executed during the second half of 2020 or the beginning of 2021, following the definitive approval of the modifications to the General Metropolitan Plan (Mpgm), scheduled for the end of this year.

The main objective of this decree is “to activate the plots” for the generation of housing, explained Sanz. For this, the Town Hall will prepare a map of the city, which it will use to verify the vacant plots, and that should be ready within a few months.

The councillor for Urban Planning argues that “it is not acceptable that unused empty private plots in Barcelona are being used for speculation”. She maintains that other cities, such as the case of Valencia, have already taken similar measures. “We want to stop private owners from holding onto plots for speculative purposes. We want homes to be built and if the private sector won’t do it then the Town Hall will”, said Sanz.

In addition, Barcelona is also going to penalise the breach of orders for the execution of works for the renovation and conservation of buildings with safety problems or those that are protected due to their architectural or cultural heritage. In these properties, if the building work is not undertaken, then the Town Hall will also be able to expropriate the building in two years time or charge the owners for the expenses.

The new decree from the Town Hall of Barcelona relating to the Catalan capital’s residential market comes two months after Colau said that 30% of all new homes must be allocated to social housing following her decision to renounce the moratorium on new construction.

Original story: Eje Prime

Translation: Carmel Drake