One of the most characteristic images of the years prior to the economic crisis was the cranes. From 2008 onwards these structures disappeared from the skyline of municipalities in Malaga; a sign that the construction industry was at a standstill, with the consequences which everyone now knows. Even though the period of social and economic crisis is not yet completely over, you only have to take a look at any major town to see that things are changing. Malaga has started building again and all the institutions say that 2017 is proving to be a key year in the recovery of the private sector, to a greater or lesser extent. By the end of this year, there will have been one billion euros of urban investment.
The principal example is in Malaga city, where town planning councillor Francisco Pomares announced this week that works licences have been granted so far this year for projects worth more than 470 million euros. The final figure is expected to exceed 500 million, far above the 350 million in 2016. Pomares says Malaga could become the second city after Madrid with the highest level of investment. “It's evident that this city is especially attractive for investors. We also have to remember that this is a good time for the sector, and although the crisis isn't over yet there are very positive signs,” he says.
He also says Malaga's town planning policy is enabling this growth. “You only have to look at Colinas del Limonar, Martiricos, Torre del Río, La Térmica and, hopefully, the Repsol site,” he says. “I believe, and it is something we are starting to do, that we have to treat planning policy in the same way as tourism. We have to have an international presence,” he says.
One of the most important examples of this new construction is in Mijas, where there is an increase of 40 per cent compared with last year, which was already a good year. After ending 2016 with 120 million, at the beginning of October the figure was already over 150, in a municipality which still has plenty of land. “For the second year running we have increased investment in terms of works licences. Last year we doubled the figure for 2015 and it looks as if this year will be similar. If everything continues like this, we'll have a very high total by the end of the year,” says town planning councillor Andrés Ruiz. He says most of these licences are for the sustainable construction of new homes, and that the council is studying the situation exhaustively to ensure they comply with its master urban plan.
The local authority says investors are showing great confidence in Mijas at present, and so are small and medium businesses who will help to reduce unemployment. “We have set ourselves a major challenge to reduce the number of people without work in Mijas and, above all, make the municipality attractive to investors,” says Andrés Ruiz. Among these investments is the one by Taylor Wimpey España and La Cala Resort, the Horizon Golf development in La Cala de Mijas.
Things are also going well in Fuengirola. The mayor, Ana Mula, says the figures show that the market is reactivating. “We have projects pending with a value of ten million euros; they will begin this year or early next year, and that is very good news for Fuengirola,” she says.
Estepona is the next municipality with the largest number of investments of this type. The council says things are moving positively, not only in terms of interest in investing but also the speed with which the town hall processes applications. Last year ended with works valued at 83 million euros, but by mid-October the figure for this year was already over 113 million.
Problems with regulations
The cases of Marbella and Torremolinos are unusual. In the latter, which has the second highest number of inhabitants in the province, council sources were unable to give a concrete figure because they have only just taken over at the town hall and have not had the chance to quantify the situation. However, the president of the Association of Developers and Constructors in Malaga, Emilio López Caparrós, says the figure will be about half that of Mijas, around 75 million. The council said this week that town planning in Torremolinos is growing and it is confident that investment will continue after two landmarks were reached in September to unblock the problems suffered by the sector: the text of the Urban Plan of 1986, redacted to comply with the regional Land Law (LOUA), was approved and has been put on display for public perusal.
Unsurprisingly, the list of permits for works which are authorised every week by Marbella council is growing. As an example, on 9 October the licences granted were for property investments which will be worth 17 million euros. About 90 per cent of the capital will be invested in Nueva Andalucía, on two large residential complexes and a luxury villa. The rest will be in eastern Marbella, on the Santa Clara Golf development, with the construction of three high quality villas.
In Torremolinos, investment has grown by more than 20 per cent, although the total figure is low because of the age of the Urban Plan. The new plan will include the construction of the biggest shopping and leisure centre in Andalucía between the Palacio de Congresos and the motorway. It will cost 650 million euros, plus indirect investment of around 550 million. The new plan also includes more green zones.
In addition the regeneration of the town centre and its progressive pedestrianisation, and the creation of nearly 20 kilometres of footpaths also figure in the plans. Torremolinos also has agreements with Azucarera Larios to create a market, and with the Rodríguez Rosado and Martínez Echevarría families to build several private residential developments and social housing. All these will be able to go ahead when the Urban Plan receives definitive approval, which the council believes will be in the next few months.
La Axarquía, on the increase
The exponential growth in property investment is also occurring elsewhere in the province. The mayor of Torrox, Óscar Medina, says the figures show that “we are doing things well. We are the new economic and tourism centre of the eastern Costa del Sol,” he says, and explains that the figure for 2016 has already been beaten with two months still to go to the end of the year.
In Nerja, town planning councillor Anabel Iranzo says the figures “confirm an upward trend which began in 2015. We have made very important changes in the town planning department to speed up the system for granting licences and that is paying off.” In the first half of this year Nerja granted a works licence worth 13 million euros, four million more than in the same period in 2016.
Rincón de la Victoria has not yet checked its figures but the mayor, Francisco Sala, says the situation is clear: more works licences have been granted, because building work has resumed on residential developments which had come to a halt, and the town hall has been approached by potential investors. The mayor also says that investment groups are buying land from the banks to build on in the future. “They come to the town hall to ask for advice on how to go about it,” he explains.
Inland, there are also positive signs for the construction sector. Antequera is already approaching the 19 million euros it achieved last year, and council sources say there is no doubt that the figure will be exceeded this year.
Coín, in the Guadalhorce region, is in a similar situation, having already matched the 1.7 million euros of last year.
These are all positive signs that the construction sector is on the move again, in cities, large towns and smaller municipalities all over Malaga province.