Transformation of the old Mercedes-Benz factory to foster community space in Sant Andreu

Transformation of the old Mercedes-Benz factory to foster community space in Sant Andreu

13/09/2022 - 15:06

Urban planning and infrastructures. If the proposed Amendment to the Metropolitan General Plan is approved, over half the site will be used as public space and a third for greenery.

The proposed Amendment to the Metropolitan General Plan (MPGM) will turn the unused Mercedes-Benz factory in the Sant Andreu district into a new space to foster local life and sustainable mobility. The project will create new squares and green spaces, with public facilities to add vitality to the Bon Pastor neighbourhood and the industrial estates in the vicinity, connecting them better with the rest of the city.

The document proposes using over half the factory for public space, meaning an area of over 49,000 square metres. This would include the new Plaça de la Mercedes, a large city park made up of a square, two gardens, inner quadrangles and green streets:

  • Plaça de la Mercedes. A square with garden features located in the old production hall of the factory. A large central agora for social and cultural activity, also providing a backbone for economic activity. The metal structure of the building will be renovated, the roof removed and solar panelling installed to provide service for the various facilities. The site will provide for commercial premises, temporary activity spaces and a large stand for public events.
  • Large urban park. This will include the Jardí del Llac, the Jardí de la Indústria, the Plaça Central and two public quadrangles. In all, this space will account for 31,000 square metres, meaning over a third of the new Mercedes-Benz site will be green.
  • Green streets. These will connect the squares and gardens and establish green corridors linking the site with the centre of the Bon Pastor neighbourhood, the Parc del Rec Comtal, La Maquinista and the Torrent de l’Estadella industrial estate. These routes will be for pedestrians and bikes, but will also feature meeting places and children’s play areas. They will also collect rainwater and add permeability to this space.

All these spaces will be reserved for walking, public use and sustainable mobility, free of motor vehicles and thus replicating the Barcelona Superblock model. In addition, the area will have new bike lanes and bike parking, with bus traffic better located and with improved circulation.

The transformation of the factory comes in addition to the changes at La Sagrera in the next few years, with new mobility generated by the new rail station and helping to free up the whole area of industrial use and integrate it with the city’s urban layout.

Another change is the reorganisation of Passeig de l’Havana. The street will be widened and all existing trees kept. New buildings constructed on the side of the street will ensure that existing housing in the street gets direct sunlight.

Public facilities and affordable housing

The new planning proposal includes a new nursery school, a vocational training school, a socio-cultural space and a memory space located in the old main building (formerly the head offices of the factory) and another two buildings in the western section of the cite. The old football field in C/ Santander will also be regained for sports use.

The project also entails the enlargement of the Bon Pastor primary healthcare centre in C/ Mollerussa, the enlargement of the community centre with multi-purpose halls in the Enric Sanchis building and the extension and improvement of the facilities at the Bon Pastor municipal sports centre.

The new Mercedes-Benz site will have up to 1,300 new homes, 40% of them for affordable housing and the rest on the free market, with at least half of the affordable housing to be rental properties. The housing blocks will make the most of the inner quadrangles of the block, as well as rooftops and intermediate terraces to create a community atmosphere.

In terms of economic activity and teaching, up to 84,000 square metres of space will be used for this. The expectation is to create as many as 5,000 quality new jobs in the mid to long term, linked to the circular economy, innovation, small industry and local commerce.

One of the existing buildings at the old factory will house the new headquarters of the Faculty of Design and Engineering for ELISAVA and the UVic-UCC. The Fundació Letita is also expected to install its own centre and head the management and implementation of tech companies linked to 4.0 creative industries.

Participatory process with local people

After the agreement with the company which owns the site was sealed in April last year, a participatory process was launched to introduce the project and gather input and suggestions from local people and groups linked to the space. The process entailed eight sessions and preceded the initial approval of the new planning project.

The municipal government will take the proposed amendment before the Commission for Ecology, Urban Planning, Infrastructures and Mobility for initial approval next Tuesday. Once this step is completed, the project will undergo a public scrutiny period of two months so that citizens and organisations can raise any issues they have with it or give any additional input.

The participatory process will continue to debate and improve the planning amendment proposal and further define aspects such as the final location of facilities.

The idea is to be able to gain provisional approval for the plan from the Full Council early in 2023.