La Farola / ÑITO SALAS

Attempt to declare La Farola lighthouse a cultural asset runs aground

Spain's Ministry of Culture agrees the iconic Malaga landmark should be protected but the technical proposal does not meet its standards

IGNACIO LILLO

Attempts to have Malaga's iconic La Farola lighthouse, built in 1817, classed as a cultural asset of interest (BIC, Bien de Interés Cultural) have floundered – not because of a lack of will but because the proposal to do so is not precise enough, according to the Ministry of Culture in Madrid.

The main obstacle lies in the “lack of spatial delimitation” of what is considered to be protected environment, with concerns that the proposal under consideration could include the entire port and urban environment.

The Ministry of Culture said, "The resolution to initiate La Farola as a BIC, as well as its declaration, must include a graphic delimitation of the property and its surroundings, on planimetry that specifies the cartographic base used."

La Farola lighthouse is just several hundred metres from the site of the planned five-star skyscraper hotel near Malaga’s cruise terminal. While the Partido Popular-controlled local and regional governments are in favour of the tower, the PSOE-controlled central government has been seen to be dragging its heels on final planning permission for the hotel. Malaga city is split on the tower. Opposition to it stems from its effect on the port landscape.

As well as preventing modifications to the lighthouse and its immediate area, the Ministry of Culture also stipulates, "Beyond the physical space, it is essential to respect the visual surroundings of the lighthouse." City leaders believe this vague terminology may be an attempt by Madrid to complicate planning permission for the hotel.

Malaga's councillor for Planning, Raúl López, said in January the move was just one more example of "being up against systematic harassment by the government of the project for the tower in the port".

Both the city council and the port authority claim it is down to the regional government and not the central government to give La Farola protected status.