Marbella's promenade is at the centre of a row between the national and local governments / josele

Town hall and national government clash over remodelling of Marbella's promenade

The local Partido Popular wants it to remain as it is and not to enforce the Supreme Court ruling while a project being developed at national level would reduce its width and affect several leisure and hotel businesses

Ignacio Lillo
IGNACIO LILLO Málaga

Spain’s national coastal department is working on a proposal for the remodelling of Marbella’s promenade which will allow the removal of a section of the sewage pipe that runs along the beach, which is continually affected by storms, while at the same time reducing the width of the section of the Golden Mile in order to widen the beach. However, this would mean some private hotels and restaurants would have to be removed in order to gain land for the promenade.

This is according to the draft project for the "Remodelling of the promenade of the coastal stretch from Venus beach to Punta El Ancón", to which SUR has had access and which the Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, referred to in her response to the breakwater projects in Marbella and San Pedro made by the town’s mayor, Ángeles Muñoz, last Tuesday (21 June).

Ribera spoke of the "subsidiary execution" of the sentence imposed on the town hall for the illegal construction of the promenade. "Now, after all this time and without having undertaken the remodelling to make the space legal, we will do it ourselves," she said, adding that her department “will have to pass on part of the costs of this remodelling to the town hall".

Illegal construction

The solution adopted is based on the fact that in 1993 the ex-mayor of Marbella Jesús Gil built a promenade along the beach without a permit. The government imposed a heavy fine and the town hall also lost a contentious case in Spain’s Supreme Court, which maintained that this work was illegal and the town hall was ordered to rebuild it legally.

Muñoz insisted the town hall had “never” considered carrying out the work, arguing that it “corresponds to the government because it is an falls within the remit of the coastal department". However, she did agree that the sewage pipe needed to be moved.

Following Ribera’s statement, Muñoz, last Friday, presented an urgent motion last Friday to the June council meeting, saying “I believe that the citizens have to tell the government clearly through their representatives the circumstances in which we find ourselves. It is unthinkable that when they ask for breakwaters they talk to us about demolishing the promenade. They have no idea about the problems in Marbella," she argued.

The motion included the implementation of the breakwater projects for Marbella and San Pedro Alcántara, arguing that it needs to be processed urgently to shorten the deadlines, as well as the rejection of the proposal of Costas, which she described as "nonsense". She added that Ribera didn’t “commit to deadlines or budgets”, and that the answer is not to demolish the breakwaters that were put in place 30 years ago. "More than 1,200 metres [of breakwaters] that will affect hotel and restaurant land, 2,115 metres of residential land, another 2,279 metres of Marbella lighthouse and 1,566 square metres of demolition of the Albero promenade," she explained.

With regard to compliance with the Supreme Court ruling, she added that "the town hall is going to ask for the legalisation of these works immediately. The first thing we are going to do is to ask them to tell us how to carry out the legalisation of the promenade so that there is no doubt". She added, “We are not going to allow any demolition whatsoever.”

Socialist spokesman José Bernal accused Muñoz of continuing to "lie and manipulate" by using the breakwaters as an excuse to clash with the central government. "This promenade is not going to be demolished. It is going to be remodelled to make it legal", he argued. After the debate on the motion, the vote had the support of PP, Ciudadanos and Opción Sampedreña and the PSOE abstained.

Proposal

The proposal involves the remodelling of the promenade from Venus beach to Punta El Ancón. One of the main objectives is the removal of the sewage collector in the area where it is currently located, moving it back so that it runs entirely under the remodelled pedestrian area.

The promenade will continue to exist but will be reduced in width in order to gain space on the beach in order to mitigate the impact of waves. In the La Bajadilla port area the current promenade will remain unchanged.

The Puente Romano and Marbella Club hotels; the Ducado de Alba family and a number of residential areas will lose terrace on garden areas. In total, 20 properties will be affected, eight of them leisure and hotel businesses.