Goodbye to Galicia’s Concrete Blocks

29 August 2018

The Galician Regional Executive is imposing more orderly and aesthetic urbanism to municipalities without urban planning rules. The government is prioritizing the adaptation of new buildings to the environment and to traditional construction.

The wide range of municipalities with no urban planning, 215 of a total of 313, which had been governed by minimum standards dating to 1991 and which are already obsolete – three land laws have been approved since then -, will henceforth be subjected to a basic urban planning corpus, that sets outs more orderly urbanism and aesthetic rules. The new rules regulate everything from the appearance of canopies and roofing to the walls that surround farms. The Basic Regional Plan, which was published on Monday in the DOG, but will come into force in a few weeks when it is published in the four provincial bulletins, has a more protectionist bent for non-urbanized spaces and will be mandatory for those countries that lack their own planning. “Determinations of Basic Regional Plan will be binding on any municipalities that lack a general plan for municipal ordination, until they are endowed with such,” the text assures, incorporating the urbanistic and planning guidelines of the territory as approved in the last years by the Regional Executive, especially the Lei do Solo (Land Law) and its regulatory development, both approved in 2016.

Municipalities with less than 5,000 inhabitants may delegate their planning. The Basic Regional Plan, besides being the immediate legal framework for any municipalities lacking planning, will be the template on which the basic municipal plans should be elaborated, and include some urgent urban planning instruments that the Regional Executive will elaborate for those municipalities that ask for it expressly, delegating this function to the Regional Government. The Regional Executive thus assumes the important task of assisting the municipalities that lack the means to elaborate their own urban planning, delimiting the rural centres, the consolidated urban land and the rural version. However, in those municipalities that have a General Plan for Municipal Ordination (PXOM), the basic plan will have a complementary nature. In other words, it will fill the gaps in municipal planning without modifying land classification.

Standards for buildings

The buildings must be convergent and “with constructive aesthetic solutions.” The “anything goes” phase is over. Both the materials and the colours used in houses must be adapted to the environment and houses must be adorned “with characteristic features”, as well as ethnographic elements of interest such as balconies or galleries. Buildings must employ “constructive aesthetic solutions”, according to the rules of the Lei do Solo, “without major transformations or negative alterations”. In other words, the displacement of earth is limited.

Walls and Canopies

Goodbye to concrete blocks. The elements that close off farms must also be in harmony with the existing structure in the area. Opaque materials are limited to 1.5 meters. From there, vegetal or metallic elements must be used. The traditional walls – those of stone, for example – should be preserved and any new ones should be inspired by them. If the walls are built using new techniques, they must be justified. “The use of cement blocks or factory materials is prohibited unless they are duly covered and painted.”

The canopies and roofs of any houses should be adapted to the predominant style of each geographical area (roofing with slate or tile, for example). The use of corrugated sheet metal without covering is prohibited.


Integrated into the surrounding environment and with walls treated as facades. The facades must also be adapted to the characteristic construction of their surroundings. The walls should be treated as if they were facades, to avoid the terrible visual effect that occurs in many Galician towns. Service networks should preferably be placed underground. Thus, electric power lines must avoid “a strong visual impact” to avoid a mishmash of wiring. The buildings that are not in agreement with this directive will be able to do conservation works, without worsening their lack of compliance.


Between 10 and 7 meters. In consolidated urban lands, one-floor houses cannot exceed 7 meters, while those with two floors should be limited to 10. In rural areas, the height may not exceed 7 meters.

Rural centres

The dwellings must be “completely” finished. Exposed brick or unpainted homes are prohibited. Detached or paired single-family homes are allowed. Only one dwelling is allowed per plot, and the occupation of the land may not exceed 50% of the net plot. Farms must have a minimum area of 300 square meters. The buildings must adhere to the constructive solutions provided for in the Lei do Solo. The typology of the constructions and the materials and colours used should not only be integrated into the environment, but all of their elements must be completely finished. “Exposed partitions are explicitly prohibited, as is the use of other materials without covering or painting.”

Town councils with problems approving their planning

Approvals for urban planning can be complicated, especially when there are platforms or individuals that successfully take legal action. This is the case of two Ourense towns. In the case of Verín, a year and a half ago, the Supreme Court vetoed its urban planning after a complaint by an individual. Curiously, the urban development document approved in 2012, was the second annulled by the court. In Monterrei, the document was also annulled by the Spanish high court. Both municipalities had been elaborating urban development plans for months. Something very similar has happened in the municipality of Abegondo, in the province of A Coruña.

In Cambre, the local government determined the redrafting of the PXOM in 2010, but the breach of the contract and errors of the packaging of the documentation made the current local government rescind the contract at the end of 2017 and reconvene a new tender. Regarding Noia, the plan was approved definitively a couple of years ago but was sent back by the Regional Executive. This was due to the lack of a hydrographic report that guaranteed the population’s water supply, among others. Meanwhile, Rianxo had already received approval, but during the elaboration process, the Lei do Solo changed and it was necessary to readjust it. In Carnota and Mazaricos they have also been trying to approve the plan for years.

Several municipalities on the Costa da Morte have been awaiting approval of the PXOM for years, without success. Sometimes, it is for judicial reasons, since the TSXG has just cancelled the initial planning of Muxía because it was not submitted for a strategic environmental assessment. Other municipalities lack rules for many reasons: lack of agreements, differences of opinion with the Regional Executive, lack of political will, changes in government… Although in different phases, Cee, Cerceda, Corcubión, Dumbría, Fisterra, Malpica and Vimianzo are still pending.

In Celanova, a PXOM approved in 1995 is in force. In 2008, the drafting of the revision was awarded to a company that was absorbed by a Chinese multinational that broke away from the planning division.

Original Story: La Voz de Galicia – Pablo González

Photo: Merce Ares

Translation: Richard Turner


Asprima: Buildable Land is Running Out in Madrid

25 November 2017 – ABC

Land is running out and the market is becoming distorted in the Spanish capital. For two years, the price of buildable land for the construction of new homes in the Community of Madrid has been rising, especially in the centre. There is not much buildable land left and the space that is available has seen its value rise due to the increase in demand. This equation means that, unless new variables are introduced, we will end up seeing an acceleration in house prices. “Real estate activity has returned with a vengeance and new housing is needed”, according to Daniel Cuervo, the Director General of the Association of Property Developers in Madrid (Asprima) (…). By way of example, “in Valdebebas, two years ago, people were paying €800 per square metre for buildable land “and now that price is above €1,500/m2 (…)”.

He also thinks that the property developers feel very certain about the sale of their homes “and that there is competition between them”, which translates into high house prices. Certain political decisions have paralysed several developments (…).

The Councillor for the Environment and Town Planning at the Community of Madrid, Pedro Rollán, was quite explicit this week when he said that “talking about housing requires us to talk about land” (…). “Many people have been obliged to go outside of Madrid due to the (high) price of land (in the centre),” he said, at a conference organised by the Association of Housing Managers (AGV). At the same time, he called for “a policy that allows for the development of sufficient land to deal with the true demand in the city of Madrid”. Rollán made reference to the importance of the “large batch of land in the south-east of Madrid”, where “at least 50% of the homes will be subsidised properties”.

Value of land

Daniel Cuervo also said that the project underway in Los Berrocales, Los Ahijones, Los Cerros and Valdecarros (the Strategy for the Southeast, within the municipality of Madrid) will allow “the relaxation of new house prices, given that more than 100,000 homes are planned”. To this end, the Town Hall needs to “continue complying with urban planning legislation to convert plots into buildable land”.

The Director General of Asprima also (…) made reference to a study conducted by IESE, which indicates the need for 13,000 new homes per year in the municipality of Madrid “and the impossibility of achieving that”.

According to the experts, the price of land, with respect to the price of a home, should not exceed 20-25% of the total value; and the traditional unwritten rules indicate that it should represent one third. “In the neighbourhood of Salamanca, in certain cases, the price paid for land may reach 70%-75% of the final value of the home”, explains Óscar Ochoa, Director of the New Build department at the real estate firm Gilmar (…).

Areas on the rise

If we talk about other parts of Madrid, things change. In San Sebastián de los Reyes, for example, the value of land “represents around 30%-35%”. Ochoa warns that it is not only in the centre that it is impossible to find new land, the supply is also scarce along some of the main access roads. “Such is the case in Las Tablas, San Sebastián de los Reyes, Montecarmelo and Valdebebas along the A-1 and in Pozuelo and Las Rosas along the A-6”.

For Ochoa, the solution involves establishing urban development plans designed to meet the true demand for the areas (…). Ochoa acknowledges that in terms of buildable land “we are in the hands of the politicians”. That is why he asks “for the plots to be organised and for the concession and licence processes to be streamlined”.

According to the Community of Madrid, there is a need for between 15,000 and 20,000 homes per year, including the repositioning of homes for those who want to change the kind of property they live in and new homes that are built. (…).

The situation is also affecting the rental market, according to José María García Gómez, Director General of Housing and Rehabilitation for the Community of Madrid (…). “The rental market is under pressure and prices are rising there once again”.

García Gómez believes that the role of the Administration “is not to put obstacles in the way, but rather to grant licences. He believes that the new Land Act, which is being drafted, will bring stability, pointing out that of the 178 municipalities in the region, only 20 have a general housing plan in place. The conclusion is clear: much remains to be done” (…).

Original story: ABC (by Belén Rodrigo)

Translation: Carmel Drake