What does the suspension of licenses imply on 22 @?

On February 18, the City Council of Barcelona, using the emergency procedure, approved the suspension of granting licenses and processing of derived planning (development plans) in 22 @ district which was effective from February 20, 2020. The suspension has caused a real earthquake in the commercial property market in Barcelona. 22 @ is (until now) the most dynamic district of Barcelona (and possibly Spain) in terms of office creation. Such fast action wasn’t expected.

With this decision, the Urban Planning Commission intends to carry out the Covenant of Ca l’Alier approved in 2018 which included acquiring more protected housing up to 30% of the plots compared to the current 10%. The suspension of licenses is expected to last four months and will affect 21.55% of the land in the entire sector, prioritizing private plots that have not yet been developed and are not involved in any pending process. The suspension of licenses seems to be limited to a period of 4 months, although the Urban Planning Law allows it to be extended up to 12 months. After the suspension, the processing of the revision of the General Metropolitan Plan may cause another suspension of licenses (this one already mandatory) for a minimum of 12 months. The 4 derivative plans and the 46 licenses already approved and pending in this area, which may be soon completed, are excluded from this suspension. 

Of the total of 3,600 homes foreseen in the planning approved in 2000, half have already been executed, more than a third are currently in construction, and the rest are those which would allow reserving 10% for protected housing, a percentage that the City Council now wants to increase to 30%. As can be seen, this increase is not to the detriment of the space destined for offices, the lines of work will aim to vary the buildability, for example, by modifying the height. This 21.55% increase in building capacity, without any urban development, would allow the creation of up to 6,000 new homes.

Other main points of the agreement are the protection of the traditional urban fabrics of Poblenou favoring the development of new strategic sectors such as the Creative Industries, Industry 4.0 or the Green Economy, a revision of the industrial heritage or the creation of an axis across the street from Cristóbal Moura.

The suspension of licenses has slowed down the projection of new offices at a time when investments were in a record position. The number of investments in 22 @ increased exponentially year after year until it finally stopped at 610 million euros last year so that in 2019 46% of Barcelona’s operations were concentrated in the 22 @ area, according to the data gathered by the real estate consultancy BNP Paribas Real Estate.

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