"In Ronda, I'm going to do the most incredible thing I have ever done. It will be a project that synthesises the whole strength of Andalucía," said French designer and architect Philippe Starck in May last year. He was referring to a building which will house an ecological mill, something he planned several years ago, and it looks as if it is now closer to reality.
The company, La Almazara La Organic SL, has recently provided Ronda council with the last of the plans, which should be the final step in the administrative process.
Francisco Márquez, the councillor for Public Works and Town Planning, says once these have been approved by the regional government's Environmental Department and this has been published in the official "bulletin" of Malaga province, the works licence can be issued. This will take approximately six months, and after that the developer will have a period of one year to start work on the project
It means that as long as there are no administrative delays, and Ronda council does not put up objections to any aspects of the project or the works licence, construction of the mill should start before the summer of 2020.
This was the deadline set by the town hall last year for the construction of the building, which will be over 20 metres high and situated on the road between Ronda and Cuevas del Becerro. It means the PGOU urban plan will have to be changed, however, because the maximum permitted height under the present one is seven metres. The proposal to modify the regulations was approved by the council, although Izquierda Unida voted against it because of the height of the building, saying "it is not suitable for a rural area".
The design of the ecological mill has been the subject of debate on Ronda council at times over several years, including when the PP was governing in minority in 2015, and afterwards during the pact between PSOE, Partido Andalucista and Izquierda Unida. It was first introduced when María de la Paz Fernández, who is now an opposition councillor, was the mayor, and is now being handled by the present mayor, Teresa Valdenebro. In July this year, the project was formally approved by the council, on condition that the Junta de Andalucía issued favourable reports.
The building will cost 18 million euros, and it is estimated that the project will have an economic impact of 50 million euros in ten years. It is also expected to attract about 100,000 visitors a year.