Mobilization against the urbanization of an old factory in L’Hospitalet
Neighborhood platforms and historians oppose the construction of 885 floors in the old Cosme Toda industrial complex. They criticize the overcrowding and alleged irregularities in the real estate development
The struggle of the residents of Sant Josep refers to other historical mobilizations in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona) that seemed utopian but ended up working. Sant Josep is a popular neighborhood in the second Catalan town in number of inhabitants, one of the cities with the highest population density in Europe. A place where the public and green space is a precious asset, a neighborhood where the residents are up in arms against the urbanization of the old Cosme Toda factory, built at the end of the 19th century and protected as a cultural asset of local interest.
The feverish complex, the work of the architect Antoni Puig i Gairalt, occupies a gigantic block of some four hectares in size. Several archaeologists work at the site, in part under pressure from local activists fighting for the preservation of the heritage. The excavation tasks reveal for months the existence of multiple underground galleries that the residents claim to preserve for their heritage value. Neighbors who have seen out of Cosme Toda ovens and even 63 projectiles in the hands of TEDAX troops. After being collectivized in 1937, the facilities were used as a war material factory. Anti-aircraft batteries were installed on its roof to repel possible attacks by Franco’s aviation.
The City Council does not want to give its arm to twist despite the pressure of several neighborhood platforms and historians who oppose the construction of 885 floors in an old industrial complex that is also formed by the old factories of Can Batllori and Can Llopis, dedicated to industrial ceramics. From the Consistory, they insist that the urban approach will bring benefits to the city. The neighbors, who have manifested themselves in front of the factory this afternoon, see irresponsibility the arrival of some 3,500 new neighbors in a neighborhood of itself. “We’ve got enough blocks. We are already too little apart in streets where space is lacking. What we need is a CAP, a public nursery, a geriatric residence and public spaces,” they protest.
The overcrowding of public space is, together with the defense of historical heritage, the argument by which opposition to the real estate project has gained strength in L’Hospitalet. “We demand a participatory process on the urban development of our neighborhood. Sant Josep is not for sale. We want to save it from urban speculation”, they point out from the Stop Massification L’Hospitalet Cosme Toda platform. Daniel Rueda, a secondary school teacher, a member of the platform, agrees on the development of a vacant lot but not that it be built to the maximum: “There are 885 floors; that is, 12 double blocks, some with more seven stories high. If they have not built one more story, it is because the law prevents them. There are enough of us here. Not as many as in La Torrassa or La Florida, but enough. We complain because this project was approved in backs to the inhabitants of Sant Josep, since neither the neighborhood association nor the City Council made it known. There is a lack of transparency “.
For the main neighborhood platform contrary to the City Council’s plans, the project “is obscure” because, when they asked who would be responsible for an alleged irregularity detected, the answer was that “from no municipal official but from a private company to which the project was commissioned. ” “If something reportable comes out, they will wash their hands. How can we not be against such a project?”
Rueda explains that a few months ago an anonymous person contacted them to encourage them to review all the project plans. “Especially, the one with the shadows, the one that recreates the shadows of the morning of January 21 of any year to check if the facade of a new building will have at least one hour of sun a day, as Article 264 of the urban planning regulations requires. Here, it was approved, after a falsified plan was considered good “, he assures. “The reality is that they are blocks so high that they cover each other, but they recreated the August sun, without anyone stopping it. It is a prevarication, something serious and reportable. But it takes money to get into it. a judicial dispute. For now, we are studying it. “
Cosme Toda had up to 13 ceramic kilns in operation at the same time. Neighbors criticize that “none of this will be preserved” because heritage “is not considered in any way” in L’Hospitalet. “Modernist friezes, nineteenth-century industrial buildings, ovens dating back more than a century have already been destroyed … They have displaced a fireplace that they want to reassemble but will not be able to. Everything that hinders the promotion of floors is Eliminates. Apartments, already for sale, that are around 400,000 euros, inaccessible for residents of the city in general. But those who can afford it, are they going to come to live in L’Hospitalet? “, asks Rueda. 30% of the promotion will be dedicated to social floors.
Concentrated in front of the factory, some neighbors do not hide their desire to camp on the site until the real estate project is stopped. “Due to ignorance, there are people who believe that this promotion will rehabilitate the neighborhood, but it will only make a neighborhood that is already too crowded more crowded,” they insist. Meanwhile, their fight to avoid overcrowding and to save their heritage continues.