Urbanisations-The new ghost towns of spain-is it sustainable

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    • #51056

      😯 It was a real shock for me to experience what actually happens in these ‘urbanisations’ during the yearly cycle. Anyone wishing to have a second or holiday home in Spain needs to consider some very important social issues that are a reality of living in these newly built urbanisations for villas & apartments of which no one really seems to mention until you experience it for yourself.

      Let me explain……..One of the niceties of living anywhere, even when on holiday is the people you meet – especially the neighbours & the local amenities (bars, restaurants, shops, general facilities etc.) Those amongst you that feel differently seeking that lonely isolated place on a hill with no neighbours need not worry either about buying in an ‘urbanisation’.

      ❓ You see – for most of the year THEIR IS ACTUALLY NO ONE THEIR EITHER. No, neighbours, closed shops, closed restaurants, hardly anything exists apart from that magical, over the top two months of the year during July & August when the place is swamped with noisy Spanish & other EU nationalities with brat families.

      Now I know there are exceptions & being close to a town helps but I was really shocked to find this. We often go out exploring & you can even go to older more established urbanisations & the situation is exactly the same – Closed shutters on all the windows & doors, no cars, no sounds – simply devoid of any life even during some of the more traditional holidays such as Christmas & Easter which is really weird.

      It strikes me that the majority of people that have these places in the sun actually only ever use them once or twice & mainly during the months of July & August. So for us ‘keenies’ who have the flexibility of being self employed & being able to come out at the drop of an easy jet cheap flight, I have now become used to living & exploring in a ghost town. Living near the beach as well can actually be quite rewarding for its tranquillity & peacefulness BUT it does take a bit of getting used to & for some they do find it very un-nerving & perhaps a bit depressive.

      I personally think that Spain in its urban Planning (if there has been any) has failed on the social & economic consequences of this ‘build & flog’ mentality without giving any real thought to how these urbanisations should actually be used. Humans & businesses tend to flourish when there is a symbiotic relationship (one being of assistance to the other & visa versa) but it takes actual bodies living in these areas for the social & economic chemistry to start working. Without a percentage of humans actually living in these urbanisations, nothing can grow or survive around it apart from a few property maintenance related businesses.

      ❗ I think that more control needs to implemented upon these urbanisations with say a limit of 50% for holiday homes (non-residents) & 50% of people actually taking up residency to make the place feel lived in & to allow surrounding business to evolve & develop as part of the natural order of things. Now I know that the majority of these new homes are clearly aimed at holiday makers for that two month hot season in Spain but surely this aspect alone is unsustainable in the long term.

      People will simply drive from main town to town through a concrete desert as they did before but previous to this at least it was pleasant orange groves or vineyards for example. The current state of some of these urbanisations remind me of some sinister sci-fi movie where some plague or holocaust has swept through the area – I certainly wouldn’t want to break down in one during the ‘off season‘. Imagine if Spain dips into recession & high unemployment again for example – guess what parts will receive the graffiti & vandalism kick back treatment first from the isolated youth – No people means no control – it’s as simple as that – so can it be sustained?

      😆 On a happier note, I now understand why places like Benidorm do so well especially off season – it’s the people that make places, not sterile buildings. I used to knock places like this but not any more – I now understand the attraction. Even the movie ‘I-Robot’ picked up on this theme. Visiting places like nearby Benidorm here in the Costa Blanca provides great contrast & balance to our many visits to our lush Golf Complex with very few people, neighbours & local facilities without the aid of a car.

      This posting is just to put some realism into what it can be like living in these ‘urbanisations‘ if you actually do want to use it out of season & you say to yourself ‘where have all the beach bars gone‘ during that pleasant evening stroll along the sandy beach of the med in September watching the sun setting – not quite the same is it?

    • #58145

      Chapeau to you Pen Pusher. You really delivered the Insight on life on the holiday urbanisations that can be somewhat quiet out of season. I don’t live on one but I have driven through hundreds out of season and your description perfectly captures the sense of what they can be like in winter. Moral of the story – choose your location and urbanisation with great care if you are planning to buy a property that you will use for more than just summer holidays.

      Also I’m glad you mentioned Benidorm. If you know where to go, and when to go, it can be quite an attractive place. Of course I wouldn’t want to be in some parts of the city when the worst of Britain descends upon on it in the summer but otherwise I’ve had nothing but good experiences during my visits Benidorm. It’s certainly a unique landmark on the Spanish coast.

      On the subject urban development here in Spain I couldn’t agree with you more. Spain is one of the most beautiful countries on earth and it pains me to see the mindless way in which some areas have been developed. However things are changing and with a bit of luck the situation can be saved.


    • #58184


      In addition to your erudite observations, I would like to point out that this type of “suburban” development is also environmentally unsustainable. When one considers the amount of time, effort, non-renewable resources employed, and environmental damage inflicted by this type of development in order to provide holiday accomodation for at most two months a year, then it is clear that the “urbanisation” is the 8 track cassette of the leisure market.

      If local councils were to insist that 50% of the homes were for primary residences, then the developers would not develop them because local people could not pay the prices that these type of developments generate.

      The Catalan government are currently revising all “urbanisation” projects, and have temporarily banned all new development within 500m of the coastline, in a belated but noble attempt to conserve what remains of what made the Costa Brava desirable. The aim is to promote small scale, sustainable development away from the coast. There is also a moratorium on Golf Courses, unless the project is self-sufficient regarding water consumption.

      Spain is on the front line as far as global warming is concerned, and all current predictions point to a progressive reduction in anual rainfall. Water supply will dictate the location and type of future leisure development in Spain, and foreign buyers not be attracted by the prospect of an empty pool and water restrictions during the the periods of highest demand, which are precisely july and august.

      Future developments will be environmentally friendly, and either high density and loud (Benidorm), or low density, quiet and self-sufficient (Rural).

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