Landmark ruling puts controversial urban plans to the vote
IN the first referendum of its kind in Spain, the residents of Almuñecar are to be asked to vote for or against urban growth in the town.
Mayor Juan Carlos Benavides has gained the backing of Andalucía’s Supreme Court that allows the people of the Costa Tropical town to decide whether a new PGOU urban expansion plan should be passed or vetoed.
If it receives the go ahead, the population of Almuñecar could grow from 26,000 to more than 100,000.
As well as the construction of 35,000 new homes, the PGOU will allow for four golf complexes, two shopping centres, 7,000 new hotel beds and two new marine harbours.
The urban expansion plans were initially passed by the town council in 2005. The Junta de Andalucía regional government, however, demanded reductions before it gave the definitive go ahead.
But now the court ruling allows the people of Almuñecar to decide in a referendum, to be held on February 28, 2009.
“This is a landmark ruling that will allow the people to have their say. There has never been a referendum like this before in Spain,” said the town hall lawyer, Antonio Tastet.
The decision has been met with mixed opinions by politicial groups in the town. The Partido Popular backs the governing Convergencia Andaluz party, but the leftist PSOE and IU parties have questioned the court’s ruling.