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Urban fiascos in Barcelona: from Eurovegas to the Llobregat Delta plan

The Generalitat and several mayors of the PSC wished to house on land of the Baix Llobregat Agricultural Park the leisure and game project Eurovegas, but the American tycoon Sheldon Adelson opted for Madrid after proposing, without success, to the Catalan authorities the transfer of the El Prat airport and the demolition of the stadium RCD Espanyol. The Generalitat’s attempt to attract slot machines to the crops of Baix Llobregat was wrecked. It was 2012, and socialist mayors in the area accused the Government of Artur Mas of having failed in its will to bring casinos to a region hit by the crisis and unemployment. Almost a decade later, in the midst of another serious economic crisis, three court decisions annul urban plans in the same area in the south of Barcelona. The judicial victory in the conflict of Urban Master Plan of Gran Via-Llobregat and that of the Areas of Economic Activity of the Llobregat Delta it agitates the environmental and neighborhood struggle in the periphery and forces us to rethink future growth projects.

From Eurovegas to the Delta del Llobregat and Gran Vía de L’Hospitalet plans: metropolitan urban development is going from fiasco to fiasco. The Las Vegas Sands project also did not end up in Madrid But four socialist mayors of Baix Llobregat, determined to house it in their territory, demanded that the Government not turn its back on the difficulties of a territory plagued by unemployment and the economic crisis of 2008. “Every day we eat up”, warned in a letter addressed to Mas the top leaders of Cornellà de Llobregat, GavÃ, Sant Boi and Viladecans. Once that competition between Barcelona and Madrid for slot machines was over, the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) has issued in less than a month up to three sentences contrary to this type of urban intervention in agricultural areas located on the outskirts of the city.

The first two are contrary to the Gran Via-Llobregat PDU, promoted by the L’Hospitalet Town Hall and the Generalitat and that endangers a growing area, Cal Trabal, located next to the Bellvitge hospital and considered the last agricultural stronghold of the second most populated Catalan city. The plan, approved almost five years ago, includes the undergrounding of the Gran Via to the Llobregat river, the construction of 26 office skyscrapers and the promotion of a biomedical cluster.

The project has been declared null and void. The sentence of the high court comes a few weeks after the suspension, albeit partially, of the master plan that regulates the area of BCN World in Tarragona.

The socialist Núria MarÃn, president of the Barcelona Provincial Council In addition to being the first mayor of Hospitalense, he argues that the project for the second reform of Gran Via is “very important” not only for the city but “for the country”. The mayor affirms that she will appeal the judicial ruling that annuls the urban plan: “It is evident that, from the Department of Territory and Sustainability and the Consortium for the Transformation of Gran Via, we will work so that the project can see the light as soon as possible” . Political parties and entities maintain that the L’Hospitalet City Council and the Generalitat will have to redo the project if they want it to succeed. The sentence is clear: “It should have been the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (AMB) the competent entity to initially and provisionally prepare and approve a PDU like the one at hand. “And the blow for the City Council and the Government, enormous.

The third ruling contrary to the metropolitan urban development, made public just a few days ago, has declared the PDU of the Areas of Economic Activity of the Llobregat Delta null, which affects two sectors of Gavà (La Marinada and Els Joncs), two in Viladecans (Can Sabadell and Sarral Llarg) and two more in Sant Boi: Llevant and Antic HÃper.

In this way, the AMB, controlled by the Socialists and the common, accumulates three judicial blows in just a few weeks. His only way out now is to rethink the content of his urban expansion plans and present appeals to the court in the hope that his aspirations can go forward in the future. On the way, however, he will run up against the opposition of several neighborhood and environmental groups that have been reborn with force in recent years in L’Hospitalet and Baix Llobregat.

Since Castelldefels, in the extreme south, until Olesa de MontserratIn the north, there is practically not a single municipality in the Baix Llobregat that does not have a platform determined to defend natural spaces or to demonstrate against urban speculation associated with the construction of buildings. These collectives have recovered the way of doing of the old neighborhood movements and also expressions of language such as “ball culture” or “brick culture”. They are not willing, they say, to give up another inch of land for building blocks.

Gavà and Viladecans have witnessed the birth and growth of citizen and environmental platforms such as Let’s save the Calamot, let’s stop the Poniente Plan or let’s save Oliveretes. The future Llevant neighborhood in Viladecans, an urban plan of almost 3,000 floors approved in 2007, was paralyzed by the economic crisis. With a budget of at least 38 million euros, it has a strong neighborhood opposition.

The Salvem Oliveretes platform, with almost 15 years of neighborhood struggle behind it, opposes the construction of nearly 3,000 homes in 60 blocks of up to eleven stories high where it is expected that about 8,000 residents will be housed. Neighbors remember that Oliveretes is an agricultural and forestry area threatened by the “pre-democratic” General Metropolitan Plan of 1976, which, without any environmental criteria, “drew a line when it classified this territory as developable”.

The three threatened sectors of GavÃ, Viladecans and Sant Boi are part of the Baix Llobregat Agrarian Park, an example of peri-urban agriculture considered as the pantry of Barcelona.

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