The original buildings are simple, gable-roof houses. / JOSELE

Groups put out an SOS to save the original homes of San Pedro

The last remaining buildings of the Marquess of Duero's agricultural settlement don't have special protection and locals are worried

JOAQUINA DUEÑAS

In 1861, only 36 people lived in San Pedro Alcántara. The following year that number increased to 529, most of whom were tenant farmers from Malaga, Cadiz, Cordoba or Valencia. They came to the area attracted by the Marquess of Duero's agricultural settlement, one of the most important in the country at the time in terms of its size and innovations that helped transform traditional, Andalusian agriculture.

Different buildings still stand from that time, some of them in San Pedro's town centre, where there are several tenant-farmer homes and the village stores. Half a dozen gable-roof houses have resisted the passage of time and were listed with protected status in Marbella's ill-fated 2010 urban development plan (PGOU).

However, a court decision to annul the 2010 PGOU plan meant that these houses are now unprotected again. Impulsa Ciudad, a local political party, has started a campaign which calls for the much-needed protected status to be put back.

In fact, one of these houses has just been sold and its future now solely depends on the plans that the new owners have in store for it. Plataforma Ciudadana para la Defensa del Patrimonio Cultural de Marbella y San Pedro Alcántara - a residents' group fighting for the upkeep of local historic buildings - started a petition to ask for protected status.

Farming created San Pedro

The group aims to remind everyone that "the origin of San Pedro's urban centre is the farmers' work that started in the 1860s, when the Marquess of Duero began farming the land between the Guadaiza and Guadalmansa rivers."

"The Marquess ordered the building of several farmhouses and the village of San Pedro Alcántara, made up of three streets: Duero, Lagasca and Pizarro, where there were over 150 houses," the group explains.

Impulsa Ciudad has made a video to reinforce their petition in which Francisco Cervera, the party's president and retired History teacher, points out: "There are villages that respect their roots and villages that don't. Roots are the emotional ribbons that tie a place with its people. If we let these remains of the original settlement go, we will have broken an important part of the links that bind us to them."

Need to enhance its value

"How many villages in Malaga have historic buildings that were once part of the most modern agricultural settlement in the country at the time?" he asks.

Impulsa Ciudad is proposing that a strategic plan be drawn up to enhance the value of the local heritage, including the remains of the Marquess of Duero's project