Beach at Tarifa saved from over-development by new planning laws for the Andalucian coast

Tarifa Beach

The beautiful beach of Playa de Valdevaqueros near Tarifa is to be saved from over-development by new planning laws expected any day from the Regional Government in Seville.

When the town hall of Tarifa announced plans a year ago to develop the area around the unspoilt beach of Valdevaqueros with a hotel and new homes there was an outcry, especially in social media. In response the newly appointed regional Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Environment, Luis Planas, said he would revise planning laws on the coast to prevent cases like this.

The Valdevaqueros development plan proposed by Tarifa’s town hall has cross-party support, so almost all the local politicians supported it. The outcry came from disgusted citizens, not the political class.

The new plan for the Andalucian coast line will be ready on the 29th of this month, according to the press. The amended plan will reduce the number of new homes that can be built within 500 metres of the beach by 25pc, from 187,000 to 143,000, according to reports.

Valdevaqueros beach will be given maximum protection or ‘Protection 1’ under the new planning laws, and 55% of the total area of the Andalucian coast will be protected, 86% if one excludes the areas that are already considered urban zones.

The potential developments that have been affected are the ones that had planning permissions reliant on the Plan General de Ordenación Urbana (General Guide for Urban Planning) drawn up in the 1990s.

As well as construction, all activities that may cause erosion or that may alter the countryside’s appearance or ecosystem will be prohibited in Protection 1 areas.

The new laws will delight environmental activists who have looked on in disbelief as Spain has rapidly urbanized its coastline. Press reports say environmentalists hope that Andalucia has set a precedent for other Spanish regions to follow in protecting their coastlines.

Tarifa’s unique identity under threat from local politicians


As a fan of Tarifa for many years, I’ve been keeping an eye on their town plan proposals, and it has always amazed me how little the local politicians understand what attracts visitors to their town.

Tarifa is special because it has developed an intoxicating identity blending elements like the hippy trail, surfer-dude and chill-out. People do not go to Tarifa for golf courses and high-rise buildings, which is exactly what local politicians want to introduce. If they get their way Tarifa will become just another stretch of over-developed Spanish coast, with more wind.

Tarifa needs to be developed, of course, but in its own special way. To get a better idea of what attracts people to Tarifa, read this article about property in Tarifa.

The change to planning laws on the Andalucian coast is welcome news, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the changes contravene the new Coastal law, and lead to administrative confusion – a Spanish speciality.