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Reclaiming the centre of Palma from 'touristification'

"It is necessary to invest in repopulating these old centres"

Mayor José Hila and others on the newly pedestrianised C, Nuredduna.

| Palma |

Architect Itziar González is a specialist in urban planning and citizen participation. She was once a councillor in Barcelona. She took a stand against the increasing number of holiday lets in the city's old centre. This resulted in her resignation after receiving threats.

In Palma for a conference on Monday, she highlighted a problem in Barcelona that is being repeated in Palma. Neighbourhoods are being lost, with apartments having become investments for temporary accommodation - for tourists.

She highlights the case of residents in the La Lonja area of Palma. They have raised 30 points for improving coexistence with tourism and are demanding a special plan by which neighbourhood life can be recovered. "We have to fight for the future of the 'touristified' historic centres. The residents want to know how they can recover them. The neighbourhood loses identity. All cities are transformed but for them, the residents, this transformation gets out of hand. It is necessary to invest in repopulating these old centres."

At the conference, she referred to the concept of vulnerability in seeking to rebalance coexistence. "In order to establish a vulnerable neighbourhood, indicators are sought to justify public investment in certain areas. Emphasis is placed on issues such as the state of homes, unemployment, ageing, and thus large urban development actions can be justified. But subjective vulnerability is often not taken into account, like noise and lack of security; these are important."

González maintains that there is resident invisibility in these historic centres. Local people have the right "to belong to a community environment". They should be involved in deciding, for example, if they want bar/restaurant terraces or not. "We are talking about public spaces occupied by private companies and the public has not been consulted."

Another case she draws attention to is the pedestrianisation of C. Nuredduna. "I'm not against pedestrianisation. But once cars are eliminated, then the terraces arrive and the price of premises rises. It's the same with homes. There is speculation and real estate prices increase as a product of public investment. It's a classic operation: with public investment, private capital gains are achieved."

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