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Areas Urbanism & territory, Tourism and Economic activities Urbanism and Territory planning

Formentera asks Madrid and Palma for help tackling housing crunch

Foto ple novembre 2015Members of the Formentera Council (CiF) came together today to celebrate the administration's November plenary session. Unanimous approval was given to a proposal tackling housing issues and evictions electric bill breaks for low-income homes. According to Councillor Alejandra Ferrer of the department of local land management, finding year-round accommodation continues to be the one of Formentera's big quagmires despite the Palma administration's efforts, including the present construction of low-cost public housing.

The Council of Formentera has also attempted to tackle the housing question here locally, through its creation of a legal status for private citizens who rent their homes to seasonal tourists, which Councillor Ferrer points out «could inversely help by highlighting the supply of houses and apartments not for seasonal holidayers». According to Ferrer, such a system opens the door to compiling a list of homes available for year-round rental.

To tackle the problem, plenary attendants green-lighted a motion to urge the Govern Balear to open a local branch of the regional housing office IBAVI (Instituto Balear de la Vivienda). The measure includes putting pressure on both Palma and Madrid to «adopt policies that actively support residents' right to housing and help in paying astronomical electricity bills».

Improving accessibility

The attendants of the plenary also unanimously passed a proposition from Socialistes de Formentera to draft a municipal accessibility plan for local buildings. Transport councillor Rafa González detailed his department's efforts on the issue and assured the Council's commitment to ameliorating a subject «where we all know Formentera comes up short». He assured all new infrastructure in Formentera is made with accessibility in mind. Opposition parties requested the change happen progressively.

Attendants also unanimously accepted a Socialistes proposal to create a digital literacy programme for the non-tech savvy. A proposition from the Compromís amb Formentera group also secured unanimous support. The idea is to create a sports volunteer corps, which, explained Councillor Jordi Vidal, will be overseen by the office of sport.

Smoke-free beaches

Another vote that garnered unanimous support: a proposition from Compromís to look into creating smoke-free beaches. The councillor of environment, Daisee Aguilera, said the administration «will study the legal viability of implementing smoke-free criteria either in specific areas or entire beaches». She stressed, however, that any outreach will be key to whichever course of action the Council takes: «This is especially a problem of education and that is really where we want to be making leaps and strides».

Plenary participants also approved a measure from the PP on illegal dumping. The councillor of the environment commented: «We are in the midst of forming a troupe of inspectors that can target this and other problems». Finally, the councillor of social welfare read out loud the administration's official proclamation honouring the International  Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Formentera bemoans Madrid's decision to go at it alone, says resulting law «ill-advised»

Reunio Junta Portaveus premsaToday at noon, representatives from local political parties gathered for a one-off, urgent assembly of the Junta de Portaveus, convened yesterday by CiF president Jaume Ferrer, in order to discuss the constitutional court's recent ruling concerning the Ley de Costas (coastline law). Besides President Ferrer, the meeting was attended by CiF head of land management Alejandra Ferrer and the spokespersons or deputy spokespersons of Formentera's municipal parties. Susana Labrador was there to represent Gent per Formentera, Gabriel Mayans represented Partido Popular (PP), Rafael Ramírez spoke for the socialist party and Cristina Costa appeared for Compromís amb Formentera.

At the gathering the secretary general and head of services of the administration, Àngel Navarro, led a detailed review of the exact ruling, which references the unconstitutionality and nullification of sections 1.2 and 4 of the fourth amendment to the law, a part which concerns the coastline divisions on Formentera.  Following the meeting, President Ferrer explained to members of the press, «the goal was to reach a compromise that would allow us to issue a joint declaration on behalf of our different local parties», but said foot-dragging by the PP had made consensus impossible.

The administration, said Ferrer, will accept and obey the court's ruling. He commented, «the strong wording and decisive nature of the sentence demonstrate that the previous work by the legal teams of the central government – which called into question the past divisions – were poorly prepared». Further, President Ferrer bemoaned what he called Madrid's poor form at failing to include the Formentera Council in setting the new coastal delineations. Ferrer concluded: «This is unfortunately the same complaint we have tried without success to convey to the PP for the last four years».

The president lamented a situation in which the hardest hit are the landowners who have fought for years to regain  property lost because it lies in affected coastal areas. He said: «I'm aware of the unfairness of the situation» and pledged the Formentera Council would continue advocating for a return of lost land. Both Ferrer and the ruling party declared their intent to «continue trying to reach a consensus» and shared their hope the PP, «like the socialists, Compromís amb Formentera and Gent per Formentera have already done», will show a willingness to compromise.

Automatic concession of small-scale construction permits up by 21%

130114 bartomeuescToday, the offices of the Formentera Council that oversee construction works released the 2014 figures for activity on the island. Councillor of town planning and the economy Bartomeu Escandell revealed that in 2014 there had been 253 applications for small-scale (menor) construction permits, a drop from 2013, when the number was 329.

Nevertheless, over the same 12-month period, the number of a different type of application – simple small-scale construction permits – increased. It grew from 112 in 2013 to 136 this last year – a 21% increase. Bartomeu Escandell attributed this change to the fact that “to make things easier and streamline the process, more and more often we are seeking to allow projects traditionally requiring small-scale permit applications to receive consideration as simple small-scale projects. The distinction allows for a concession of permit which is practically automatic”.

Of the 253 permit applications for small-scale construction received in 2014, 137 were approved. The remainder – says Escandell – “are under review. The majority are simply awaiting attention from other branches of the public administration”. In 2013, of 329 applications, 218 received approval.

The figures change with applications for permits to conduct what is considered large-scale (major) construction. In 2014, the Council received 110 applications for large-scale permits. Of the proposed projects, 14 were new structures built on rural soil and 96 corresponded to changes to pre-existing structures. In 2013, of the 101 total applications received, 51 were granted approval. Escandell has affirmed that “[the Council] continues processing a high number of the applications that they receive, but to a lesser degree than at the start of the legislative session. This is due in large part to the fact that Council offices that process construction permits have assumed a somewhat normal level of activity”.

Escandell also gave figures concerning requests for certificates of occupancy, required before a building can legally be occupied. These made up 84 applications in 2014, up from 77 in 2013. Of those 84 applications last year, 64 were given approval, compared to a mere 13 that were approved in 2013.

Next month, the Council's office of town planning will unveil the newest data concerning urbanism in 2014.

FiC to put Ca ses Ferreres terrain up for auction

cases Ferreres 1The Formentera Council has decided to sell the terrain known as 'Ca ses Ferreres' by public auction. Both the land and the house constructed thereupon, located in El Pilar de la Mola, are property of the Council. The auction can take place only after notice is given in the Official Bulletin of the Balearic Islands (BOIB) and, following this, once a two-month wait period has elapsed. Publication of such a notice in the BOIB is expected to happen in the coming days.

The decision was made in light of the fact that the terrain is neither associated with any public service nor is it expected to be in the near future. The home at 'Ca ses Ferreres' is on rural land and has neither water, electricity nor sewage service.

According to economic services of Formentera Council, sale of 'Ca ses Ferreres' is the most adequate solution given the advanced state of degradation of the house.

Appraisal of all the 'Ca ses Ferreres' property, the house and the plots located thereupon – which consist of some 15,000 square metres – was conferred to TINSA Ltd. The total value was set at €429,615.15.

The property was already put up for public tender once in December 2013 following the same procedure, at which time an estimated value of €529,606.20 was given.

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