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Meeting of 1st August 2013

Meeting of 1st August 2013

At our lunch meeting of 1st August Alejandro Criado Sánchez PhD, lawyer speciaizing in Planning Law, who has written several books and papers on this subject, spoke to us about planning laws in Spain.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
The Planning System in Spain is the limitation of property rights and planning by public interest. In Spain the general planning laws are much more detailed than in other European countries, even than France and Germany. Everyone needs a permit before starting to build and this licence will take account of the design specified for that town or city and the public interest.

Planning on the Costa del Sol is under the control of the Junta de Andalucía. Each Spanish Autnomous Region has considerable internal control and one of the main things that the Junta de Andalucía controls is terretorial planning which can include a group of towns and cities or the entire region. The plan of the Costa del Sol of 2006 includes Fuengirola, Mijas, Marbella, Casares, Manilva, Ojén, Istán and Benahavis. The Junta de Andalucía decided that the Costa del Sol was growing too quickly and created this new Plan del Costa del Sol which limited permitted building areas up to the motorway. The new zoning protected areas of the mountains and created new public areas and major projects for the Costa del Sol. One of these, the Finca de Holanducía, in front of Puerto Banus, will be an area designated for Congress buildings and commercial and residential areas. The Junta decided that it was necessary to zone the land initially then to find investment after the land had been zoned. The zones particularly take account of the new train for the Costa del Sol. which will be mainly underground. Each station will be surrounded by an area of increased development, more homes and businesses, so these areas have already been zoned for extra development.This new railway will change the Costa del Sol. The route of the railway and stations are shown on the plan.

The western part of the Costa del Sol from Mijas to Manilva, with Marbella in the middle, contains a large protected area inland that cannot be developed. In this area any residential development has to be small. The person who originally drew up the plans for this area was trained in the UK and brought many British ideas to his plans. He has introduced green areas that have fingers coming down to the seaside and has designed parks in these areas so that you can walk from the mountains to the sea without passing houses.

Marbella Town Plan. The previous plan of 1986, which designed a city marking the difference with Torremolinos as the extremely dense development that we see today, has led to the realisation of the importance of including quality of life in planning regulations. The recent idea is that a better quality of life is achieved by a lower density. The two important things that town planning must give are quality of life and legal security. 

Projects and Development. The aim is to allow new development in Marbella because the town has a lot of empty land and so a specific plan was needed. There are two main projects:
1. The poligono La Ermita
2. Guadaliza
The plan accepts that the development of the Ricardo Soriano is from the past and Marbella needs a new town centre, which will be at La Ermita. Firstly, all the industrial areas at the east end of Marbella must be moved to the area above La Canada and then the new port and harbour will be built. The residential zone and the town centre, based on La Ermita, will then be connected to the harbour.

Quality of Life.The problem of the quality of life in Marbella town centre needs to be considered. Marbella lacks parks and needs more investment in schools. The big point of the new plan is to designate new areas for parks, schools and health care. It includes the expansion of the Hospital Costa del Sol.

Marbella has considerable evidence of ancient developments with antiquities from Phoenician, Roman, Moorish and Medievil times. It also contains buildings of architectural interest from the twentieth century including the Puente Romano and the Arab Bank. The new plan protects all these historical sites and buildings. There are plans to have guided visits to the historical places in Marbella as there are many Roman remains and the town hall on Orange Square dates from the sixteenth century.

Legal Security We must be realistic; there are many buildings that were given building licences but which did not follow the plan of 1986. The decision has been to legalise most of these buildings rather than to knock them down.

As an example of quality of life, Alejandro showed a map where some areas that are now developed as camping sites etc. will be made part of the parks and green areas, especially along the coastline.

There were a number of questions to Alejandro at the end of this interesting talk:

John - land that I own on an urbanization which is residential has suddenly become zoned as commercial. Why didn't the planners look at the area and see that this is illogical?
Alejandro - The town of Marbella tries to be ecological therefore it has planned for 'proximity'. This means that there need to be small areas of offices and shops within urbanizations so that people do not need to use their cars so much. There is more flexibility so that people can put a guardería or a restaurant in their house to increase the 'proximity' in the area.

Lizzie -What does the town hall plan to do with all of the skeleton buildings?
Alejandro - Some will be demolished and some will be completed.

Paul - a) How can an investor have security if zoning of a piece of land can be changed over-night?
          b) How can there be protection for law-abinding people if some illegal buildings will be legalised, as this discourages people from staying within the law?
          c) Why is there no control over the external appearance of new buildings? Many are incredibly ugly.
Alejandro - The planning department is very strict now about illegal building and external appearance of new buildings, which have to follow the Plan of Marbella and the Costa del Sol as explained. Existing illegal building owners have to pay compensation, which goes towards paying the cost of the green belt. Architects now must have the exterior appearance of a new building accepted by the planners.

It was 4.0pm and the meeting had to close despite a number of members wanting to ask further questions.

Alejandro has offered to answer these questions from our club members by email. His email address is