The government of the mayor Ada Colau will decree next week a suspension of licenses for the construction of new flats and large refurbishments over 600 square meters. The starting point to apply a one-year moratorium , which could last for two years, is the Urbanism commission to be held next Monday. It will be there when the local executive presents the proposal that requires housing developers to allocate 30% of the property that they build or reform to social housing.
The initiative is proposed through two modifications of the Metropolitan General Plan (PGM). One of them will require the promoters to contribute to the expansion of the public housing park in the city and the other will convert the entire municipality of Barcelona into a pre-emption and retraction area. That is to say, the City Council will have priority in the purchase of lots, farms or flats. Both proposals, which have been drafted through a working group that involved municipal technicians, Barcelona Regional (BR) and collaborated entities such as the PAH, the Sindicat de Llogueters, the FAVB, Observatori Desc and the Assemblea de Barris per a Sustainable Tourism, has caused discomfort in the management of the promoters and agents of the real estate sector, to whom it has remained on the sidelines.
In fact, the Association of Promoters and Constructors of Catalonia (APCE) yesterday warned La Vanguardia of the negative effects that the more than foreseeable suspension of licenses could cause in the economy of the city. The promoters warned that the City can achieve the opposite effect to the desired one by stopping the activity, since it would add more pressure on prices due to the “imbalance that could cause between supply and demand”.
If in the commission of Urbanism the two modifications are approved initially – everything makes foresee that thus it will be – the City council will decree the suspension of licenses, that would not be activated until its publication in the Official Butlletí of the Província. In fact, this initial approval will mean a moratorium on licenses in the entire planning area -which reaches the municipality of Barcelona- that are incompatible with the new ordination until its final approval or until a maximum period of two years. During that time, the City Council will not grant any construction permits for the construction of housing or major renovations, as happened in July 2015 when the mayor decreed the suspension of tourist accommodation licenses.
Investment of the Generalitat
On the other hand, the Government, through the Institut Català de Finances, announced yesterday that it has opened two lines of credit totaling 250 million euros with which to finance the construction or purchase of 2,800 social rental houses. The investment will serve, in the words of the Minister of Territori, Damià Calvet, to substantially expand the public park of the Generalitat, currently made up of 17,000 flats. The vice president of the Government, Pere Aragonés, explained that the first line of loans is endowed with 110 million euros and seeks to facilitate that municipalities, non-profit entities, third sector and social promoters acquire 1,800 homes from foreclosures and that are in the hands of the bank. These residences will serve families that are in a situation of social emergency. The other of the credit lines, endowed with 140 million, will be used for the construction of 1,000 social rental housing by private and public developers. These flats should be built in one of the 152 municipalities with an accredited demand and will have a maximum rent of 450 euros per month.
Apart from these investments, Calvet said that the Government intends to increase the duration of the rental contracts of the current three “to a minimum of five years”, a measure that would be achieved through “own legislation”. He warned, however, that to make this legal change “a conflict of competence with the State will occur”. “We have to finish studying if what we do is to initiate public consultations to begin the presentation and approval of a law or if we go through more urgent ways,” he said.
dialogue with the private
The mayor of the Republicans for Barcelona, Alfred Bosch, called yesterday for “a great city pact” between the administration, the private sector and the third sector to deal with the problems that the city suffers with respect to housing. “Public housing is 2%: you have to work with the private sector,” defended the municipal leader of ERC in a conference on housing that the training held yesterday at Nau Bostik. “In this legislature we have seen how the price of rents in Barcelona has multiplied. Is it the fault of the current government? No. Is it your responsibility? Yes, “said Bosch, accusing the Colau executive of devoting more to blaming others than looking for solutions. “We have to necessarily have the private sector,” said Bosch. “And you have to look for viable formulas that are not impositions,” he concluded.