“We don’t want a Millennium Dome”

LAST UPDATED: 9 Aug, 2007 @ 19:38
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Judiciary investigates golf project designed by Sir Richard Rogers

Olive Press Exclusive
A GOLF course complex designed by the architect behind the controversial Millennium Dome in the UK is being investigated by police.

The public prosecutor in Granada has ordered the probe following allegations multiple illegalities surround Milenarium Coto de la Macairana, the proposed leisure and residential project on land between Gójar and Dílar.

The claims centre on an anonymous letter sent to the provincial public prosecutor, accusing the former mayor of Gójar of the trafficking of interests and abuse of position.


The letter also accuses Francisco Javier Maldonado, who lost control of the town’s council in the recent municipal elections, of environment offences.

It is believed the claims centre on the 350-million-euro double golf course complex, scheduled to be built eight kilometres from the centre of Granada.

Designed by the London-based Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners office of architects, which is headed by Sir Richard Rogers, the Milenarium Coto de la Macairana will also include more 3,000 homes, commercial premises, four luxury hotels, restaurants on two-million square metres of land between Gójar and Dílar.

This is despite an 18-hole golf course and residential complex just three kilometres away in Otura.

Empty handed

Acting on instructions from the public prosecutor, officers from the judicial police went to the Gójar town hall to check the documentation of the macro-project.

However, the Olive Press can reveal they were refused access to the documents. According to sources close to the investigation, they were told by council officials the paperwork had “vanished.”

Members of Escapate, a residents group that opposes the macro-project, also claim to have been denied access to council information concerning the project.

“We were illegally denied proper public access to the plans and documents available for public inspection,” a spokesman for the Escapate protest group told the Olive Press.

Escapate’s protest is centred on claims the complex is not “environmentally sustainable” and the project “will increase the local population by 300 per cent.”

Currently, the combined population of Dílar and Gójar stands at 5,800 people.

The group, however, estimates this will increase to 17,000 with the construction of the complex placing a massive strain on local natural resources.

“We expect the complex to use 15 million litres of water a day, which could lead to aquifers and wells becoming exhausted,” a spokesman for the group said.

In an open letter sent to Sir Richard Rogers – who was recently awarded the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize for “championing urban life,” the group claims two and a half million square metres of land adjacent to the Sierra Nevada National Park will be “destroyed” and that the area “does not need a Millenium Dome.”

Defence

Project director Simon Smithson defended the project and told the Olive Press the architects could pull out of the project if claims of any wrong doing prove to be correct.

“What goes on within the local councils is beyond our control. I for one would be very upset if there are any illegalities.

“If this does prove to be the case, we would have to assess our own situation.”

He then moved to defend the multi-million-euro project, calling claims the project would be damaging to the environment “incorrect.”

“There is no doubt development in Spain shows little regard for the environment. It is reasonable to state the large majority of developers have no interest in environmental concerns.

“In this instance, however, our client has a terrific commitment in changing the current model of development.”

He added the Milenarium-Coto de Maicarena complex is “environmentally robust.”

“We have placed a huge emphasis on pedestrian movement rather than vehicular and we have also preserved visually vulnerable areas adjacent to the Sierra Nevada National Park.

“The complex will also use recycled water and its energy will be powered by biomass.”

Sir Richard Rogers, who was awarded a knighthood in 1985 in recognition for his services to architecture, was also responsible for the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Terminal 4 building at Barajas Airport in Madrid.

*** Update ***

Sir Richard Rogers’ golf project in doubt after council voices concern

Council vows to fight controversial complex built close to protected land

A GOLF course project designed by Millennium Dome architect Sir Richard Rogers is in doubt after local council officials vowed to oppose the scheme.

Both Gojar town hall and the regional government believe the 320-million-euro Coto de la Macairana leisure and residential complex is “worrying.”

The news comes after the public prosecutor announced an investigation into the project, after receiving a letter accusing the former mayor of Gojar of corruption.

As revealed in the Olive Press (We do not want a Millennium Dome – issue 28), when police went to the town hall to check the project’s documentation, they were told the paperwork had “vanished.”

Now, the Olive Press can reveal Gojar town hall has asked the Junta de Andalucia for advice in a bid to stop work on the project, which includes a golf course, more than 3,000 homes, three hotels and commercial premises yards from the highly-protected Sierra Nevada National Park.

New town mayor Pedro Clavero said of the Rogers, Stirk Harbour + Partners designed project: “We are dealing with an extraordinary reclassification in land status for the Coto de la Maicarana scheme.


“Our intention is not to approve anything we believe is outside the boundaries of legality.”

Currently, 200 hectares of rustic land eight kilometres from Granada has been earmarked for the macro-project.

However, Gojar’s PSOE mayor claims if the project goes ahead it will differ radically from the original plans.

“The developers [Urbespacios] came to an agreement with the town’s previous administration for the construction of a theme park that will give employment to more than 1,000 people.

“However, in the processing of the project’s paperwork a number of changes have been made. What was supposed to be a theme park is the Water Garden – nothing more than a hotel complex with spas.

“We will not allow the developers to mess around with us and build thousands of homes without any other activity that generates wealth for the locals,” he added.

Francisco Cuenca, a Junta representative for the Granada province, backed the calls to stop the project, which opponents claim will destroy natural resources and increase the local population by 300 per cent.

“The mayor has told us of his worries the complex will bring disproportionate urban growth for the area and we are prepared to give him all of our help,” he said.

“The regional government is not against development, but it has to be done in a coherent, adequate manner.”

The project has met with fierce criticism since it was announced in 2002 from local residents and environmentalists.

In an open letter sent to Rogers, opponents told Britain’s most famous architect the area “does not need another Millennium Dome.”

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