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The urban challenges of the City Council and Madrid Community (whoever governs)

| News | Urban Planning and Environmental Law

Antonio Ñudi analyses the upcoming urban development projects that will boost economic activity in the Madrid Region in an article published by El Independiente

We are a few days away from getting to know the new Madrid City Council government teams and Community, and on the table of the future governors there are already a series of urban projects to which a response must be given.

These new projects will not only boost economic activity in the Madrid Region, but will also contribute to the solution of certain problems, such as the lack of accessible housing for young people, mobility, the creation of new public facilities and, of course, environmental quality.

During the previous legislature, the most emblematic project of the city that has seen the light has been the Mahou-Calderón operation. A project of great magnitude in the consolidated city that foresees the construction of 1,300 homes and the covering of the M-30 in the part of Madrid-Rio pending to be filled. The project has completed its planning phase and is in its management and execution phase.

However, many others have not been initiated or have remained at an intermediate stage of processing, which creates great uncertainty about their future viability.

Madrid Nuevo Norte, the eternal development plan of the north of the city, has remained in the initial approval phase of the Modification of the PGOU and on the verge of a provisional approval that was foreseen in the finished legislature. The magnitudes of the project speak for themselves: 10,500 homes of which 20% would be protected and more than 1,400,000 square meters of building for commercial activities and offices.

Los Desarrollos del Sureste, with the capacity to develop 116,000 homes, whose Master Plan approved by the city council in January 2018 in order to redefine the project, was declared null and void by the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid; the Southeast must be urgently promoted, as it will be there that the implementation of public housing policies can be forcefully demonstrated by the large amount of municipal-owned land.

Projects like the Cocheras de Metro Cuatro Caminos, whose Partial Plan is initially approved: the 444 co-operators have it in mind; or the Specific Modification of the Old Clesa Factory, also with initial approval. Both projects must also be resolved.

Another one of the projects that should be addressed is the so-called Operación Campamento. Beyond the different options for the regulation of the A-5, through the implementation of traffic lights to reduce speed, as is now the case, or the construction of a subway of several kilometres (as Ciudadanos or the PP have promised), this project should be tackled in all its orders and not only in the solution of traffic: also in its urban planning, although this requires agreements between the three Administrations, in a similar way to what happens with Madrid Nuevo Norte.

From the normative point of view, the new social realities inexcusably demand regulations that provide legal certainty but, at the same time, have enough flexibility to adapt quickly to changes.

The Administrations, in a coordinated manner, must be sufficiently imaginative and active in adapting, within the scope of their respective competences, the obsolete urbanistic norms to the new social realities, circumventing the excessive rigidities of the ordering. Formulas such as Coliving, a housing solution for young people who are no longer students and are looking for something more than shared housing, with common areas for leisure and work; Cohousing, a proposal to share common spaces for groups with similar needs: or Coworking, shared work spaces that allow, at a lower cost, to have excellent facilities at full capacity to develop innovative projects for the future, must find an accommodation in the norm.

The phenomenon of tourist apartments is another example of these realities. In the last legislature, the so-called Plan Especial de Regulación del Uso de Servicios Terciarios en la clase de hospedaje (Special Plan for Regulating the Use of Tertiary Services in the Hosting Class), approved by the Madrid City Council, through its competence in the system of activity licenses, has opted for a restrictive regulation limiting the implementation of tourist apartment activity in various areas of the capital and in residential buildings.  This local regulation is sometimes not easily compatible with the recent amendment of Decree 79/2014, of 10 July, of the Community of Madrid, responsible for tourism, which regulates apartments and dwellings for tourist use.

Finally, one of the important tasks that our governors have not been able to undertake in the last legislature due to a lack of agreements is the reform of the Land Law of the Community of Madrid which, after 18 years of validity, proves to be exhausted and insufficient to resolve the new challenges faced by many of these projects.

We are at a time when it is more necessary than ever to agree to govern, but this should not be an impediment to be effective in management.

You can read the article in El Independiente.

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