New urban planning to protect the heritage and identity of GràciaThe Government Commission has provisionally approved an Amendment to the General Metropolitan Plan (MPGM) for the old quarter of Gràcia, guaranteeing its particular character is conserved, reducing as much as possible any urban declassifications and favouring protected housing, local commerce and greenery.
The plan will be developed from two strategies: built space and open space. Regarding the current buildings, the document focuses on preserving architectural heritage, increasing protected housing and fostering harmony between housing, activity and facilities. Regarding open space, including streets, squares, public and private gardens, the goal is to implement an environmental vision which increases biodiversity and greenery, prioritising sustainable mobility.
Between the MPGM and the Special Plan for the Protection of Historical and Artistic Heritage, protection will extend to 3,400 properties in Gràcia’s old quarter, some 73% of the total. In other words, three out of four buildings will be protected, including for example the Casa Aleix Clapés in Carrer de l’Escorial and the Palauet Minerva in Avinguda Diagonal.
Reduction to the number of affected homes
The existing planning affected 158 homes. With the initial approval this figure dropped to 42 homes, and now, following a clinical analysis of the whole area, the number of homes affected is nine. This represents a reduction of 94%.
One of the most significant changes is the reversal of the continuation of Pg. Frigola as far as C/ Granja. Once the challenges were analysed and a detailed study made of the urban make-up of the surrounding area, the project to open up the road and included in the existing municipal plan was deemed unnecessary. This reversal means 16 homes will not now be affected. A similar case in C/ Valldoreix, where the existing planning classified the area as a green zone, means 15 other homes will no longer be affected.
1,700 protected homes
The document anticipates the long-term creation of some 1,700 officially protected homes in Gràcia through four measures. Firstly, it details the current regulation whereby there is an obligation to reserve 30% of new-build homes for protected housing. Even though all around the city this reserve is for plots covering a minimum area of 600 m2, in Gràcia that figure drops to 400 M2 because plots are smaller. At the same time, ground floor premises which get turned into housing will have to switch to being protected homes. In addition, the plan is to limit the subdivision of existing homes, only allowing this with homes of more than 160 m2 and where the housing will become protected homes. Finally, the plan includes action for the construction of 50 new publicly owned protected homes.
Boost for local commerce and sustainable mobility
The new planning seeks to promote the implementation of commerce in ground-floor premises, favouring a mix of uses. In other words, to define a system of activities with a civic character, where there is commerce and where people engage in everyday life, where pedestrians get priority and special regulations are in place to restrict traffic and parking.
In terms of environmental and mobility improvements, the document seeks to get the most out of all new urban development projects in streets, parks and gardens, inner quadrangles, rooftops and party walls of new buildings. Environmental criteria will be applied in all projects, relating to the land, biomass and biodiversity of each area and some environmental standards for streets and buildings. Besides this, the MPGM protects existing greenery, consolidating it as green heritage and ensuring that it is maintained. In addition, various measures are also established to create new green zones and facilities.
In parallel, the document consolidates the Barcelona Superblock model with a move to favour sustainable mobility, journeys on foot, public transport and by bike, guaranteeing that in the case of the latter all streets in Gràcia are suitable for cycling and parking bikes in public space without clashing with uses made by pedestrians.
A result of joint work with local people, organisations and the ERC, the text will be ruled on at the next session by the Commission for Ecology, Urban Planning, Infrastructures and Mobility, before being voted on by the Full Council in its meeting of 28 January. Once the plan gets approved by the Full Council it will go before the Barcelona Sub-Commission for Urban Planning for definitive approval.