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Madrid's urbanism, a pending subject

| News | Urban Planning and Environmental Law

Carlos Peña analyzes the situation of urbanism in the Madrid Community for the newspaper Expansión

After the electoral periods and with the state, autonomous and local governments in a formation phase, it is time to analyse the result of past legislatures in relation to urban activity in the region of Madrid.

From the legislative point of view, it is frankly beginning to be worrying that the Community of Madrid is one of the few autonomies whose Urban Planning Law, which dates from 2001, has not been adapted to the rewritten text of the State Land Law, nor to the State Environmental Assessment Law. The Town Planning and Land Bill, which was presented to the Assembly in 2017, could not be approved due to the discrepancies between the different political parties and the multiple amendments to it.

Its consequence: difficulties, delays and legal insecurity in the processing of any planning instrument within the Community of Madrid, and the corresponding scarcity and increase in the price of land and housing.

Another of the problems of Madrid's urban planning is the historical inexistence of territorial planning instruments that contemplate and order the city of Madrid and its metropolitan area (corona of adjacent municipalities) as a single reality that requires joint or, at least, coordinated planning. With these strands, it is the courts that decide on Madrid's urbanism, turning what should be an isolated pathology into something habitual (judicialisation and annulment of planning). Given that the nullity declared by a court, even for formal reasons, affects the entire plan -as it is considered a legal norm-, it disappears and must be processed again and approved again, which can take years. In order to modulate the effects of the nullity of the plans, in early 2018 the Partido Popular Government prepared a draft Law on Administrative and Procedural Measures to strengthen legal certainty in the area of territorial and urban planning, a draft that has also stalled after the change of government in June 2018. We will see what happens when the new Executive is formed.

The last example of this can be found in the ruling 30/2019 of 18 January passed by the Madrid Supreme Court, which annulled the Master Plan for the New Development Strategy for the Southeast, and its "notice to navigators" so that the Madrid City Council could proceed, once and for all, with the revision of the PGOU (General Urban Development Plan), which dates back to 1997.

Although only the Master Plan for the New Southeast Strategy has been formally annulled, the sentence and the grounds for the decision wound to death the subsequent specific modifications to the PGOU that the Madrid City Council initiated at the end of 2018 (Advances in the Modification of the General Plan in Valdecarros, Los Cerros, and Ensanche de San Fernando)

Inexcusable duties

Therefore, one of the inexcusable urban planning objectives of the new governors of the city of Madrid must be to decisively promote a new Madrid PGOU or, at least, a partial revision of it that analyses and updates the urban planning of the city as a whole in order to respond to the new challenges and opportunities both in the consolidated city (refurbishment and renovation actions as well as those that are currently underway: Operation Mahou-Calderón, the Clesa factory, Madrid Nuevo Norte or the Metro depots in Cuatro Caminos), updating its catalogue of protected buildings and their urban planning regulations, as well as on pending or developable urban land (Southeast Strategy, Operation Campamento, surroundings of Barajas Airport, etc.)

The autonomous community that contributes the most to GDP, as well as the capital of Spain, cannot and must not allow itself to continue to be at the bottom of the queue in terms of urban planning legislation and planning of their cities. The new governors of Madrid have the unavoidable duty, regardless of political discrepancies, to promote the approval of modern urban legislation adapted to state and European regulations on land and the environment, as well as to undertake a minimum strategy or supra-municipal territorial coordination and the general review of municipal urban planning that have become outdated.

You can read the article in Expansión.

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