• Spain's news in English

New mayors put breaks on big building projects

AFP · 17 Jun 2015, 09:02

Published: 17 Jun 2015 09:02 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Both new leaders have vowed to shelve urban development projects, judging them unnecessary and too expensive at a time when one in four workers is out of a job in Spain. Tens of thousands of new homes also remain unsold following the collapse of a property bubble in 2008.

Ada Colau, a 41-year-old anti-eviction activist, was sworn in as mayor of Barcelona on Saturday while Manuela Carmena, a 71-year-old retired judge, took the reins at Madrid city hall, after nationwide local elections last month in which the ruling conservative Popular Party took a drubbing.

Shares in Spanish builders have slumped since the May 24th election, reflecting concerns by investors.

Spanish infrastructure group OHL has lost a third of its value, builder FCC is down by nearly 17 percent while its rival ACS has lost just over nine percent.

Madrid had the greatest number of real estate projects awaiting approval before the local elections, which put an end to over two decades of Popular Party rule in the Spanish capital of three million residents.

The largest is an ambitious public-private partnership dubbed "Operation Chamartin" named for the district in northern Madrid where investors want to create a new financial centre.

It calls for the construction of several skyscrapers, three new metro stations and around 17,000 new homes.

The project's backers say it would create 121,000 badly needed jobs for an investment of €6 billion ($6.7 billion).

But Carmena, whose race for mayor was backed by Spain's new anti-austerity party Podemos, has said she opposes the project in its current form.

"The north of the city does not need 17,000 new homes," she told top-selling daily newspaper El Pais.

Carmena said she wants to "curb speculative real estate projects which are under way" following a lengthy building boom whose collapse in 2008 sent the Spanish economy into a tailspin.

New hotel moratorium 

On Spain's northeast Mediterranean coast, Barcelona's new mayor has vowed to place a moratorium on approving the construction of new hotels as part of a plan to ensure the city does not "end up like Venice".

She has also said she will stop the construction of a large supermarket and block the expansion of two others to help preserve small shops.

The new mayors cannot outright cancel projects which have already been approved, said real estate consultant Jose Luis Bartome.

"They will be terminated, but through delays and changes," he said.

He considers "Operation Chamartin" a project that would meet the need for housing and urban renewal in Madrid.

Spain's second-largest bank BBVA, one of the project's creditors, said it "will work with public administrations to satisfy the needs of residents".

Spanish construction group Acciona, which is in the race to build another Madrid mega-project - a new complex of court buildings estimated to cost €1.2 billion - is also cautious about the new view from city hall regarding big projects.

"We must wait and see what they say," a company spokeswoman said.

Audience with king 

Story continues below…

A Madrid architect, who spoke under the condition that he not be named, said the election outcome had already cost him a project to build 40 homes on an empty plot.

"The Friday (before the municipal elections) it was almost sold. The Monday (after the vote), the French investors backed away," he said.

There is "uncertainty" over how the municipality will manage building permits, he added.

Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, who earlier this year bought a stake in Spanish football club Atletico Madrid after last year snapping up a landmark Madrid skyscraper which has stood empty for years, is reportedly worried.

He has demanded an audience with King Felipe VI, according to a report in online news site El Confidencial, which was not confirmed by the royal palace.

Wang wants to buy two million square metres of land in Madrid to build 11,000 houses, stores and a theme park, but locals are lobbying city officials to turn the site into a hospital.

By Laure Fillon 

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spain's 'Napflix' aims to bore viewers to sleep
Photo: Screengrab/ Napflix

A Spanish video platform called Napflix, designed to put people to sleep with dull content, was launched this week and its founders are on the lookout for more "monotony and repetition."

Recipe: How to make fabada - traditional Asturian bean stew
Photo: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/Flickr

The hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don't forget the crusty bread and cider!

Brit 'paedo' held on Costa del Sol after Most Wanted appeal

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives was arrested on the Costa Del Sol following a tip-off from an expat just hours after his face appeared on a public appeal.

Spain's parliament approves deficit reduction measures
Photo: Images Money/Flickr

Spanish lawmakers approved on Thursday measures to reduce the public deficit and keep it under the target agreed with the European Union.

'Cubism and War' show opens at Barcelona Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso Harlequin and Woman with a Necklace. Photo: MP

Barcelona's Picasso Museum unveiled an exhibition on "Cubism and War" on Thursday depicting how one of the most influential artistic styles of the 20th century survived the First World War.

Why this bionic limb pioneer doesn't believe in disability
Hugh Herr has been award Spain's top science prize. Photo: FPA

The Local speaks to Hugh Herr on winning Spain's top science prize and how being an amputee doesn't make him disabled.

Dine in the buff at Spain's first nudist restaurant
A buffet of organic food will be served on "human tables". Photo: Innato / Facebook

Spain's first naked dining experience is to arrive on the island of Tenerife following the success of a similar venture in London.

Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Photo: AFP

Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday cancelled a bullfighting ban in Catalonia in what is likely to exacerbate tensions between Madrid and the separatist region, and between animal activists and fans of the tradition.

Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Eta members made a ceasefire declaration in January, 2011. Photo: Gara / AFP

Five years after armed separatist group Eta declared a permanent ceasefire, Basque journalist Alberto Letona is still wondering when the dialogue will begin.

Hunt for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Call Crimestoppers if you recognize these faces.

These fugitives from British justice are thought to be hiding out in Spain. Do you recognize anyone?

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
Forgotten Voices: What Brits in Spain think about Brexit
One dead and 14 injured in blast at Spanish resort
Game of Thrones want extras 'with muscles' to film in Spain
Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban
jobs available