The lack of investment aggravates the pathologies of many neighborhoods in Catalonia


The sinking of the building of the passage of the Tower of the neighborhood of the Salut from Badalona, sentenced to a slow death in an almost artisanal execution that has started urgently this week, has again demonstrated the serious problems of housing that affect entire neighborhoods of Catalunya, especially those that were built in the fifties, sixties and seventies of the last century, under Franco's authority, contravening all urban planning logic, filling the pockets of speculators and, in many cases, acting illegally and, almost always, undermining all common sense and even against human dignity.

The Salut, Ca n’Anglada, Sant Roc, the Mariola, Riu clar… are names that evoke very improvable habitability conditions, thousands of undervalued homes, with an original sin aggravated by the passage of time, the manifestation of constructive pathologies, lack of maintenance, public divestment, the neglect of many owners and the lack of resources of most residents.

Building Certificate

This year 143,022 farms must pass an inspection, but only half have done it

In the absence of more up-to-date accurate data, the last population census for housing, corresponding to 2011, estimated at 4,868 the number of buildings intended for residential use in Catalonia that were in a "dilapidated" state. Another 15,502 were then classified as "bad" with respect to their conservation and 85,369 were categorized as "deficient." However, this classification does not yet take into account many of the structural ills that may appear in the coming years and, in fact, have already begun to emerge. And it is that more than 450,000 homes were built in those dark years that now, in times of gross historical revisionism, some badly called nostalgic insist on sweeping this part for some time. We talk about the residential park built between 1950 and 1980. Of course, not all of it, not even most of it, is under suspicion, but it is worth remembering that these are, for example, the decades of aluminosis, one of those evils of today incubated yesterday.

To try to control the state of the housing stock, the Generalitat obliges the communities of neighbors to that the farms of more than 45 years pass the Building Technical Inspection (ITE). A surveillance that determines which pathologies suffer real estate and their needs for improvement. This year 143,022 properties must pass this inspection, but, as of today and according to sources of the Generalitat, only 70,214 have passed it while another 72,808 lack such an examination and, therefore, they still do not have the certificate of aptitude.

Urban regeneration

The latest neighborhood plan projects are still being executed

The Neighborhood, Urban Areas and Villas Improvement Law approved by the tripartite government of the Generalitat in 2004, it tried to partially alleviate the deficits – not only of urban and residential nature, but also of social and equipment – dragged from previous decades. The philosophy of the aid that was put in place from the entry into force of the law coined by the then Secretary of Planning, Oriol Nel·lo, was "finance projects, not problems." Virtually everyone agreed that the neighborhood plan was an excellent idea, although the participation of the private sector in the financing of approved urban regeneration programs was not the desired one and, too often, public resources had to be used almost exclusively.

Between the first, in 2004, and the last, in 2010, there were seven calls linked to the neighborhood plan, which added a total of about 150 projects, an estimated investment of about 1,350 million euros (half contributed by the Generalitat) in a hundred municipalities in which about one million people lived. It is true that just over half of the neighborhoods that received aid corresponded to historic centers, although in about 30% of the cases, intervention was carried out precisely on housing estates developed in the sixties and seventies to locate migrant population arriving from other regions of Spain and by 20% in areas of marginal urbanization without prior planning. A change of government in the Generalitat (the tripartite ceded power in 2010 to the nationalist government of Artur Mas) coinciding with the maximum explosion of the crisis broke the initiative. Subsequently, attempts to recover the neighborhood plan – whose latest projects are still being executed – or something similar have not gone beyond the mere declaration of intent, although his memory vaguely inspired the neighborhood plan launched in Barcelona by Ada Colau in his first term.


Hope is the last thing you lose

Pepita is 83 years old and arrives at the landing of his house, without an elevator, with the help of a walker. The block in which he lives for more than fifty years has a rather deplorable aspect compared to others in the same group of homes, where there are torn cables, blackened meters, torn mailboxes, dirt and broken glass. They are the buildings of Mariola Group, previously nominated as Ramiro Ledesma blocks, built six decades ago and undoubtedly the most painful urban wound in Lleida.

Pepita explains some of the problems he faces. “The water company has charged me two receipts instead of one. In social services they are looking at me, but living here is very difficult, ”he says. Pepita is an active neighbor, who collaborates with the neighborhood association, convinced that you don't have to shut up.

The 470 floors of the blocks have only 45 square meters and a remarkable degradation. Many of them have boarded windows and others are occupied by tenants who have caused alterations in living together. The lack of maintenance also affects the stability of the constructions. This year, the Paeria She was forced to tear down a block that threatened ruin. Another disappeared in 2005 by a gas explosion that caused three fatalities and took 16 homes ahead.

Victor Ruiz, president of the neighborhood association, is determined to spread the concept of “neighborhood pride” among the neighbors and organizes acts with civics as a priority. “We have to take care of the neighborhood among everyone. The situation is very difficult, but we don't give up or lose hope. The Mariola Group blocks, like the others, require a comprehensive performance, we will not do anything with patches. ” A motion presented by the association of residents of La Mariola achieved the unanimity of the municipal groups to promote a plan of integral renovation of the neighborhood.

The former mayor of Lleida, Felix Larrosa, as Town Planning Councilor, he collected the proposal from the neighbors and in the last months of the mandate he presented the Mariola 20,000 project, which aims to regenerate 20,000 m2 of building roof, 502 floors and six premises, with an initial budget of 17.4 million euros. The project, assumed by the new local government, has had the neighborhood participation and is waiting for Generalitat and promotion communicate to the Paeria that they support it financially. / Pau Echauz


“We cannot pay neither inspection nor works”

When it is windy, like today, there is always some detachment … There are very old buildings, some are sad, but nobody has sat down to make a diagnosis and, much less, to consider how to deal with this problem ”, maintains the president of the Federation of Veïns de Tarragona, Alfonso Lopez. They are hundreds of blocks built in the early sixties in the peripheral neighborhoods of Torreforta, Sant Salvador or Camp Clar that rose with more speed than quality, and in many cases, the obvious lack of maintenance has resulted in facades in poor condition, dampness and cracks.

To the City Hall of Tarragona there is no building that has a severe pathology since, at the end of the nineties, four blocks (240 homes in total) were detected with aluminosis in Torreforta. The process of demolition and transfer of tenants to a newly constructed building culminated a decade ago. The balconies that were in the adjoining houses, all of the same era, had to be propped up with an exterior iron structure. “They made some holes in the roof and told us that the houses were fine; ours are fine, but there are others that are not … ”, says a neighbor.

Next to the entrance door of many of these blocks the Francoist plate of the Ministry of Housing. "Listen, I have been living here for a while … I am a tenant, I do not own …", one of the neighbors of a block that exceeds sixty years is excused. "Many of the original owners have already died. With luck, the apartments are rented, some have squatters … "How are we going to pay for an inspection and some works?" Asks another neighbor. They have received a letter from the City Council. The building, with floors between 40 and 50 square meters and without an elevator, has to pass the ITE.

For their owners, the structural problems of their houses add to a precarious economic situation. In many cases, the cost of inspection, without planning works, is already unacceptable. “Years ago we proposed that a line of aid and subsidies be launched by the administration, because in many of these blocks there are no farm administrators or economic capacity, but there has been a total inaction,” he laments Antoni Peco, neighbor of La Floresta and former president of the FAVT. / Sara Sans


Preventive urban planning

Ca n’Anglada from Terrassa It is a neighborhood of humble and hardworking origin formed by neighbors coming, mainly, from two migratory waves: that of the south of Spain from the fifties and sixties of the last century and the Maghreb from the late eighties. The houses, mostly apartment blocks and many of official protection, were also built more than half a century ago according to a compact and dense design. In 1999, the immigrant population did not reach 3% in Terrassa and in Ca n’Anglada it was 5%. Today, the percentage of people born in the neighborhood abroad is 34.2%.

In July 1999, residents of Maghreb origin experienced unfortunate racist incidents, with aggressions of neo-Nazis included, which altered the peace of Terrassa. But events had consequences for years. The government of the then socialist mayor Manuel Royes (and president of the Deputation) decided to import the Barcelona model for Raval and created the agency Municipal Society of Ca n’Anglada, which applied preventive social programs. Then, he projected the sponge plan in the north of Ca n’Anglada, with a budget of 17 million euros, distributed 50% between the Consistory and the Generalitat.

“The objective was to make controlled demolitions of nine buildings with 184 homes and the relocation of a hundred families, to sponge the neighborhood and gain free spaces and equipment. But in no case because there were structural problems in the buildings. They are old, but during the housing bubble some sold for 200,000 euros, ”he emphasizes Lluïsa Melgares, Deputy Mayor of Territory and Housing. Since 2014, when the plan began, five buildings have collapsed and now it is necessary to demolish the blocks of the Concòrdia 1 and 3 passage, at the end of the year. In 2020 two more of Constancia and Previsio will be expropriated and in 2021 the work will be finished. “Unlike what happened in Badalona, ​​I believe that what is applied in Ca n’Anglada is an example of good practices, with impeccable social work by the administration. Each case has been treated personally – owners with mortgages, tenants, squatters … -, collaborated with the entities of the area and opted for an office in the neighborhood to facilitate efforts, ”he details. Melgares insists that “the duty of the administration is to sanction the owners who do a bad management of the house. But the first responsibility to keep your flat in good condition is the owner. ” / Dove Arenos

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