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Madrid Nuevo Norte: How ‘biggest urban regeneration project in Europe’ will transform Spanish capital

It has been on the cards for more than two decades, but the Madrid Nuevo Norte project has finally been given the go ahead and promises to entirely transform the Chamartin district of the capital as well as the city's skyline.

Madrid Nuevo Norte: How 'biggest urban regeneration project in Europe' will transform Spanish capital
Mock ups of how Madrid Nuevo Norte will look. Photos: Ayuntamiento de Madrid

What is it?

Dubbed, Madrid Nuevo Norte, the massive real estate project was formerly known as Operation Chamartín,and was always planned as the next stage of development of the area around Chamartín train station after construction of the four towers. 

The project covers some 3.3 million square meters of land and promises to create three new towers, among them one which reach the lofty height of 300metres and become Spain’s tallest building.

The development will consist 348 individual buildings of which 60 percent will provide office space and business premises and remaining 35.46 percent, new housing comprising 10.476 units, of which 20 percent is designated as “affordable housing”. 

The project has been modified to ensure 80 percent of transport needs can be met by public transport with three new metro stations planned – Centro de Negocios , Fuencarral Sur and Fuencarral Norte – a new bus route and 15km of cycle lanes. 

“We have put sustainability and sustainable mobility at the forefront,” explained Javier Herreros, one of the architects behind the project which also involves Ana Riaza, as well as Richard Rogers.

It will link two new housing developments with a “green corridor” and will see the redevelopment of Chamartin station, sinking the railyards beneath ground and covering it with a huge park to link the Plaza de Castilla with Avenida Burgos.

How much will it cost?

The budget for development is currently set at €7.3 billion but the plans estimate the project will boost the region’s economy by €18.3 billion, creating more than 240,000 new jobs.

Hasn't this been talked about for years? 

The project, first mooted in 1993, has been mired in political strife with subsequent city administrations battling to get it passed.

It was all set for approval on two occassions but was scuppered both times by events beyond the control of any council.

The first because of the terrorist attack on four commuters trains in March 2004 and the second in 2008 when the global financial crisis sparked Spain’s construction bubble to burst and threatened the economic viability of such a grand project.

Finally, after going through various reincarnations under different mayors and with a thorough reworking by the last City Hall administration under Manuela Carmena, the project was tabled once again and won approval in a unanimous vote on Monday uniting councillors from Mas Madrid, PP, Ciudadanos, PSOE and Vox.

It now has to pass approval by Madrid’s regional government as the project involves rezoning legislation.

How long will it take? 

Construction work is scheduled to start in late 2020, and the entire project is estimated to take 24 years to complete. It will be built in three destinct phases beginning with the station redevelopement and followed by  Centro de Negocios (Business Center), Las Tablas Oeste, slated for completion in 2033, and Malmea-San Roque-Tres Olivos, due to be finished in 2037.

The group behind the project is the developer Distrito Castellana Norte (DCN), which is controlled by the BBVA bank, which has a 75.5percent stake in the project and construction conglomerate Grupo San José, with 24.5 percent stake.

So, by 2044, barring any delays, the north of Madrid will have completely transformed and boast an entirely new skyline.

READ MORE: Words and phrases you need to know to be a true Madrileño

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Madrid police end escaped camels’ night on the town

Eight camels and a llama took to the streets of Madrid overnight after escaping from a nearby circus, Spanish police said on Friday.

A camel in a zoo
A file photo of a camel in a zoo. Photo: ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP

It was not immediately clear how the long-legged runaways managed to get out but Quiros Circus, which owns them, blamed sabotage by animal rights activists.

They were spotted at around 5:00 am wandering around the southern district of Carabranchel close to where the circus is currently based.

“Various camels and a llama escaped from a circus in Madrid overnight,” Spain’s national police wrote on Twitter, sharing images of eight two-humped camels and a llama hanging around a street corner.

“Police found them and took care of them so they could be taken back safe and sound,” they tweeted.

There was no word on whether the rogue revellers, who are known for spitting, put up any resistance when the police moved in to detain them.

Mati Munoz, one of the circus’ managers, expressed relief the furry fugitives — Bactrian camels who have two humps and thick shaggy coats – had been safely caught.

“Nothing happened, thank God,” he told AFP, saying the circus had filed a complaint after discovering the electric fence around the animals’ enclosure had been cut.

“We think (their escape) was due to an act of sabotage by animal rights groups who protest every year.”

Bactrian camels (camelus bactrianus) come from the rocky deserts of central and eastern Asia and have an extraordinary ability to survive in extreme conditions.

These days, the vast majority of them are domesticated.