Increase in building plan approvals reflects recovery in construction sector

2016-01-26 05:00:00

This time it looks to be certain. This isn’t the result of unusual circumstances during a one-month or three-month period. The statistics for plans for new buildings authorised by the Official College of Architects of Malaga in 2015 corroborates what the construction sector has been saying: there are indeed clear signs of recovery.
Last year, a total of 2,454 new homes were approved, three times as many as the 798 in 2014. In addition, this is a figure that hasn’t been seen for five years; in 2010, when the effects of the economic crisis on new housing in Malaga were really making their mark the go-ahead was given for 2,362 properties.
As the property sector has already noticed over the past few months, Malaga city and the western coast have led the recovery. Figures released this week by the Malaga College of Architects show that there were projects for 712 new homes in this area, compared to 166 in 2014. However, it’s worth highlighting that nearly half of them, 319 to be exact, qualified as some form of subsidised social housing (known as VPO in Spanish). This type of property is increasingly part of the picture even though it is not yet supported by subsidies due to be available under the Housing and Rehabilitation Plan for Andalucía 2016-2020, a document which is currently being processed by the regional government.
Malaga city was the only municipality in which the architects endorsed VPO housing last year.
On the western coast, Marbella has played an important part in the recovery with a total of 492 properties authorised last year, compared to 143 in 2014. Figures for the forthcoming quarters this year will show whether this trend towards recovery will continue or whether, on the contrary, it will remain static or decrease as a result of the uncertainty generated by the Supreme Court’s recent anullment of Urban Planning Law (PGOU in Spanish).
Marbella council is hoping to overcome this problem by adapting the 1986 PGOU currently in force to the Law of Town Planning Regulations of Andalucía (LOUA in Spanish) that was approved in 2002 and provides an obligatory framework for all planning within the autonomous region.
However, the architects’ figures also showed significant increases in new housing in other towns on the western coast of Malaga province, although the numbers were lower. In Torremolinos, for example, 203 homes received the go-ahead last year, compared with just 41 in 2014.
The eastern coast has also seen some signs of recovery, although the volume of new housing there is much lower. And in the inland region, the figures are still very low: only 160 new projects were authorised in total for all the inland municipalities, although this was still more than the previous year.
Cautious optimism
Those in the construction industry have welcomed the news with cautious optimism. “It shows a growth of 200 per cent, so nobody can deny that the recovery has begun,” said the president of the Malaga Association of Constructors and Developers. Emilio López.
Nevertheless, he also pointed out that the figures of 2,454 new approvals last year is still very low and he believes that there is still a long way to go to reach an acceptable volume of new residential projects in the province. “We won’t return to the 45,000 homes a year that we reached in 2004, but I believe it would be reasonable to reach 15,000 or even 20,000,” he said before adding, “It is going to take a long time to get over the crisis.”
In order for recovery in the property sector in the province to be consolidated this year, López believes two factors are fundamental. Firstly, “The government needs to get involved in resolving the problem with the PGOU in Marbella because the city was doing well,” he said. He is also calling on town councils to “do everything possible to make bureaucratic processes for new projects easier,” to prevent investors from going elsewhere.source surinenglish