Published On: Sat, Feb 3rd, 2024
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The luxury Spanish resort popular with Brits set for transformation after decades of delay | Travel News | Travel

Eight years of planning woes and bureaucratic struggles seem to be coming to an end for Marbella, Spain, as the city anticipates a long-overdue transformation. The much-awaited renovation aims to revitalise the resort’s urban planning and legalise thousands of “illegal” properties that have plagued the city’s development.

Marbella’s tumultuous journey began with the rejection of the new Plan General de Ordenación Urbanística (PGOU) by Spain’s Supreme Court in 2015. Decades of planning issues, rooted in past mayors’ questionable decisions, particularly during Jesús Gil’s controversial tenure from 1991 to 2002, have left the city struggling to streamline its planning regime.

Gil’s legacy includes allowing the construction of around 18,000 illegal homes during his time in office, contributing to the city’s planning chaos.

Despite the removal of corrupt officials in the anti-corruption Operation Malaya, Marbella has been grappling with the aftermath, leading to a lack of trust and prolonged delays in planning approvals.

The latest attempt to address the planning debacle began in 2010 when Marbella’s town council submitted a revised PGOU. However, the Spanish Supreme Court rejected the document in 2015, leading to a frustrating return to the outdated 1986 PGOU. This setback caused legal complications for property buyers and developers who had aligned their projects with the now-obsolete 2010 plan.

Under the leadership of current mayor Ángeles Muñoz, the city embarked on a new planning process in 2017. Despite promises of imminent approvals, the finish line remained elusive.

The most recent timeline, announced in July 2022, suggests a potential final approval of the core Plan General de Ordenación Municipal (PGOM) document by the summer of 2024.

While the delays have impacted investor confidence and redirected opportunities to neighbouring municipalities, there is a silver lining in Marbella’s planning saga. The proposed transformation includes modernising infrastructure with expanded roads, new green spaces, river parks, sports and waterfront facilities, future rail stations/lines, and an underwater archaeological preserve. Additionally, 28 new car parks aim to alleviate the perennial issue of parking scarcity within the city.

Despite the mixed feelings stemming from the prolonged planning delays, the residents and investors in Marbella are hopeful that the end of the long wait is finally in sight.

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