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Balearics approve new restrictions on urban growth

Palma de Mallorca, seat of the Balearic regional government

The regional parliament of the Balearics has given the green light to new restrictions on urban development and growth. Expect the hunt for scapegoats for the housing problem to intensify.

In late January the regional parliament of the Balearics in Palma de Mallorca approved with 29 votes in favour and 17 against a recent decree by the regional government limiting urban growth and tying the hands of town-hall planning departments. The local papers are calling it an “unprecedented break on new urbanisations in the Balearics.” Critics say this will only exacerbate the housing crisis in the region.

The parliament approved decree 10/2022 of “urgent town planning measures” preventing town-halls from authorising new building zones if the municipality already has a building land-bank of 15%, making it law. Amongst other things, the “urgent measures” will limit the number of swimming pools in rustic areas to one per property, with a maximum size of 35 sqm.

Property companies and opposition parties say the new regulations will drive up property prices to which the regional environmental minister replied saying, “it’s untrue that territorial regulations have anything to do with house prices and in the case of rustic land it’s been used widely to speculate with and use for tourism.”

Environmental groups and housing activists all applauded this new law to stop urban development in the Balearics, reports the local press.

There is a housing problem in the Balearics, where the market is already highly regulated. Under the current regulations it is impossible to provide housing for everyone, ruinous to build affordable housing, and shortgages push up prices, exacerbating the problem. The left-wing regional government is responding by discouraging private investment, looking at ways to exclude non-resident buyers, and preventing urban development for ideological reasons. The problem will get worse, and the hunt for others to blame will intensify.

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