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Areas Urbanism & territory, Tourism and Economic activities Urbanism and Territory planning

New survey seeks clearer picture of Formentera's housing crunch

Simulacio final obra HPOThe Formentera Council's land office is engaging directly with IBAVI, the Balearic Islands' housing institute, on a survey to improve understanding of the housing demand on the island. Survey respondents will also be added to a register of potential renters, updating the waiting list for IBAVI's low-cost housing currently under construction in Sant Ferran.

In March, the Council has created an information corner at the Citizen Information Office (OAC) where home-hunters can register. It is open Monday through Friday, 9.00am to 2.00pm and interested parties can also visit IBAVI's Formentera office next to SOIB, Mondays 9.30am to 1.00pm and Thursdays 11.00am to 1.30pm.

According to land councillor Alejandra Ferrer, the two groups' decision to team up can be traced back to the need for “clearer data on Formentera's housing crunch”. Equipped with the information, she said, the Council and Govern foresee carrying forward pointed efforts to tackle the problem.

Council reminds local businesses of rural ad ban

The Formentera Council's Office of Land wishes to remind residents and businesses of the ban in place on advertising in rural areas. The restriction is anchored by Formentera subsidiary regulations as well as an island ordinance on so-called “dynamic advertising”. Local inspection services have begun articulating a study on signs found across Formentera, especially those that are devoted to promoting private businesses. The current regulations are expected to be updated based on the study's conclusions and removal orders and penalties will be issued accordingly. Those announcements were laid out earlier today by CiF land, tourism and trade councillor Alejandra Ferrer.

Ferrer mentioned that a removal order had recently been issued to a business-owner for emblazoning advertising on his rural storefront. According to Formentera subsidiary code, the individual must now return the property to its original state — that is, paint it either white or sand-coloured. Failing that, the Council will take up the task itself at the owner's expense and CiF legal services will study whether or not to seek punitive measures. Ferrer said the effort was part of a push “to protect landscapes and avoid a surge of advertising across the island”. She asked local tradesman to contact Formentera's Office of Land, Tourism and Trade before putting up signs and posters so that the office could indicate to them when and how to do so legally.

Boned: improvement projects could make pollution, noise thing of past at Formentera power plant

Reunió amb veïns Es Ca Marí premsaEarlier today, Alejandra Ferrer and Daisee Aguilera, Formentera's councillors of land and environment, respectively, held a meeting with Joan Boned, regional minister of land, energy and transport; Joan Groizard, director general of the Balearic office in charge of tackling energy and climate change issues; and different representatives from the Es Ca Marí neighbourhood. At the gathering Minister Boned detailed the different actions planned by the Palma administration to take aim at the perennial buzzing, pollution and emissions that have long plagued the area around the power station.

At present, Palma envisions modifying the site's noise abatement technology, updating the generators used at the plant, installing a system of noise absorption within the plant itself and building a single, eight to ten metre smokestack. The regional minister promised a return visit before summer in order to ensure plans remain on track.

Councillor Aguilera said the Govern's proposed solution, which will be in place by summer 2016, is sufficient until a more definitive fix can be found. Lina Mayans, secretary of the Es Ca Marí neighbours' association, indicated she is pleased with the anticipated measures, while noting the group's greatest cause for concern remains pollution levels in the area.

Anger over cuts in power service

Boned expressed his anger over the service cuts that have hit Formentera since the year began. According to the minister, inclement meteorological events cannot be used as an excuse because the power company should be able to predict them. Boned made assurances his department has already demanded the company provide explanations for the service interruptions and take the necessary steps to avoid their continued occurrence.

Formentera Council to provide more justification for historic town centres

Foto RP valoració sentènciaFormentera Council (CiF) president Jaume Ferrer was joined today by vice president and councillor of patrimony, Susana Labrador, vice president and councillor of the presidential office, Bartomeu Escandell, and vice president and councillor of land, Alejandra Ferrer, to give their assessment of a decision of the supreme court. The decision, which upholds a February 2014 ruling handed down by the Balearic Islands superior court of justice, strikes down the remapped limits of Formentera's historic town centres citing a lack of justification to substantiate the redrawn centres.

President Ferrer said the CiF's criteria was «to protect those sites with patrimonial value that are located within a town's urban centre» and noted such places are often spread out and not necessarily near a church. As Ferrer pointed out, that standard differs from the one used to define patrimony in Eivissa and Formentera, which sets a town's epicentre as the church and from there extends protection over a radius of 250 metres.

More justification

Ferrer said that at present, the supreme court «has not nullified the model applied heretofore in Formentera. Rather, it has requested further explanation be given for it. Specifically, the court has asked justification for the sites accorded official protection as well as those not included but still within the 250-metre radius of the town church. The reasoning was that the sites of neither patrimonial nor architectural interest. And this must be now justified in Formentera's report on its historic town centres». He clarified the court has not found Formentera's criteria erroneous, simply requiring further justification. Which means, he added, «the Council will now set a process in motion to draft a report redefining the historic centres of the island».

Govern decree fits neatly with Formentera's own protectionist strategies

Reunió decret protecció premsaCiF president Jaume Ferrer, president's office secretary Bartomeu Escandell, and Alejandra Ferrer, the island's secretary of tourism, sat down today with two regional government officials —Joan Boned, the Balearic minister of land, mobility and energy, and Luis Corral, the director general of the ministry's land use department— to be brought up to speed on an order, approved yesterday by the executive branch, containing urgent measures on urban planning.

Speaking after the gathering, Alejandra Ferrer framed the new decree as an extension of the island's own guidelines for territorial safeguards, a code of standards called “Subsidiary Norms” (Normes Subsidiàries) which was adopted in 2010. Yesterday's executive order throws up a building freeze on certain swaths of protected land, something Formentera's standards code includes as well. “Our unique territorial situation, not to mention limited size, make us different”, Ferrer said, “that's a difference that makes us competitive”.

Power return
Ferrer spoke cheerily about another effect of the decree: that local branches of government stand to regain some powers. When the Balearic executive decree and Formentera's Subsidiary Norms overlap in a given area, the more restrictive of the two codes takes precedence, a fact Ferrer indicated could mean reinstatement of the local ban on camping.

Concerning tourism, Ferrer welcomed the potential that yesterday's order opens up for facilities improvements in rural areas, while still warning against the possibility that such a rules change be used improperly, say, to disguise unauthorised expansion projects.

In Ferrer's estimation, a good deal of work on land-use legislation still lies ahead, and she encouraged the Palma officials to work with the Formentera administration to ensure that the new regulations “square with the unique qualities of our island”.

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