The regional government of Catalonia, the Generalitat, has suspended all new planning permission on the Costa Brava, affecting as many as 15,000 new homes, and at least two hotels.
The Town Planning Commission for Girona has imposed a moratorium on all new development, including on land zoned as urban, covering 2,000 hectares of the Costa Brava and 19 of the 22 municipalities on the coast between Portbou in the north and Blanes in the south. The municipalities of Castell-Platja d’Aro, Calonge i Sant Antoni and Castelló d’Empúries have escaped the moratorium.
All land within 500 meters of the waterfront is affected. Development in this strip is suspended on all land where 50% or more of the surface area has a gradient of 20% or more, even if the land is currently zoned for development. How far the ban reaches inland depends on the municipality, but in some areas the ban reaches kilometers into the interior.
The regional authorities have justified the moratorium on the grounds of protecting the landscape in an area that hopes to be declared a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco.
The moratorium is in force whilst a a new Master Urban Plan (called Plan Director Urbanístico or PDU in Spanish) for the region is going through the process of public consultation. The PDU aims to reorganise urban planning in the region and focus on environmental sustainability.
The most affected municipality on the coast will be Roses in the North Costa Brava, which will lose the capacity to build 5,900 new homes. Well-known tourist hotspots like Cadaqués, Tossa de Mar, and Sant Feliu de Guíxols have had all new licenses suspended by the moratorium. The area around the upmarket town of Begur is the most affected.
Local mayors are annoyed. Mayor of Begur Joan Loureiro, from the Republican Left party (ERC), says the moratorium has been imposed without consulting municipal authorities. “We wanted a moratorium for problematic areas, but they have imposed it on all the territory, and where before there were no problems now there are,” he told the Spanish press. Other mayors point out that suspending development on urban land will hit residents and local businesses hard.
Local landowners consider the plan “very unjust”. The move leaves small plots of building land virtually worthless both as an investment and a site to build a home.
Ecologists are delighted. The local ecologists’ platform SOS Costa Brava has praised the moratorium as a “brave step.”