He was an urban figure created to favor lconstruction of four and five star hotels in the most touristic city of the Community, but it ended up being little more than a tailored suit for the establishments, without a real counterpart for the municipality. The Benidorm City Council still has not received any of the compensations provided for by the application of the famous “hotel award”, an urban figure approved with the approval of the Consell and which at the beginning of the 2000s allowed the reform and construction of new hotels with greater buildability than they were entitled to. Seven establishments took advantage of this regulation. But as of today, twenty years later, none of them has materialized the assignments of endowment or economic land that the regulation provided as consideration.
Municipal sources have confirmed that several of these establishments they have started the procedures. Yes. Some, even, for several years. But in no case have the files reached their final phase yet and, therefore, it is not even calculated yet how much money should go into the public coffers or, failing that, how many square meters they should contribute to the patrimony of municipal land for which they raised more.
The “hotel award” was a set of urban planning bonuses that the popular government of Vicente Pérez Devesa initiated in 1998 through a specific modification of the General Plan, number 1, with the approval of the Department of Public Works of a Generalitat then governed by Eduardo Zaplana, who ended up testing it in 2001. The measure was limited solely and exclusively to the area of Benidorm and contemplated the possibility of building new plants by increasing the use of the land provided for in the General Plan, but without this being computed as an increase in buildability. Or, put another way, being able to raise in some cases up to 40% the buildable volume to build larger rooms, lounges or spa areas, thanks to the fact that common spaces such as lobbies, corridors, stairs, warehouses, elevators, kitchens, terraces or parking were not computed urbanistically speaking.
Despite being a procedure that began two decades ago now and was known to all municipal governments, of either sign, that have governed the Town Hall since then, it was not until just three years ago that the City Council announced its intention to repair this very serious “forgetfulness.” A complaint filed by an individual before the Sindicatura de Greuges in 2017 asked this institution to investigate the facts, considering that this situation would have “seriously undermined the legitimate interests of the citizens of Benidorm, as a consequence of the failure to defend the general interest by part of the local administration ‘. The Catalan Ombudsman requested information from the Consistory and, after verifying that the facts were as the complainant narrated, urged him to regularize the area that these establishments had out of order.
The municipal report prepared in 2017 by the municipal architect, José Luis Camarasa, told the Valencian ombudsman that the hotels built thanks to these regulations are the Victoria, Flamingo Oasis, Meliá Benidorm, Levante Club, Deloix, Madeira and Mediterráneo. A year later, the mayor of Urbanism, Lourdes Caselles, assured this newspaper that the first five establishments had already submitted documentation to his department to approve the Interior Reform Plans (PRIs) necessary to legalize the excess area and, therefore, calculate offsets. One of them, the Deloix, had it presented even before the Síndic claimed it. However, none of these PRIs has yet completed the process to be approved.
Other projects Four completed and ten in process
Not everything is shadows around the “hotel award.” Although the first so many hotels that were built thanks to this urban figure have not yet resolved what their obligation was, other PRIs that came later have been executed as provided by the norm: using greater volumes but, on the contrary, compensating the municipality. Four projects have already been completed: the two presented by the Mediterranean Casino and those of the Los Arcos and Presidente hotels. At present, there are another ten PRIs of hotels and tourist apartments in process; among them, that of the Hotel Benilux, which will be in full swing shortly.
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