Despite the difficult circumstances that COVID-19 has set upon the ordinary activity of the Spanish Public Administration, on March 25, 2020, Madrid’s Regional Government attained almost the end of what was a very longed legal planning reform that will allow the future urban redevelopment of the North of the City of Madrid, currently known as “Operación Madrid Nuevo Norte”, by adopting a resolution for the definitive approval of the corresponding amendment to the General Planning Regulations of the City. It affects a surface area of 3,356,196 square meters and 10,500 dwellings will be built.
The approval was published in Madrid’s Official Gazette nº 75 of 27-03-2020. Nonetheless, the effectiveness of the amendment will be on hold until the City Council of Madrid fulfills several requirements made by Madrid’s government to the planning amendment.
Obviously, this new urban planning action is not the first great development carried out in Madrid. Suffice to mention the new residential areas such as Sanchinarro, Montecarmelo, Las Tablas, or more recent ones such as Valdebebas or El Cañaveral. Anyway, “Operación Madrid Nuevo Norte” implies the redevelopment of an important surface area of the North of Madrid that affects to already developed urban land, with a high density of living and working population, being this the difference with the aforementioned projects which referred to land suitable for development where population was scarce or even inexistent.
All major urban planning projects such as the aforementioned require time consuming proceedings, in terms of years, until building permits can eventually be granted. We can be sure that this new challenge ahead of us will take many hours of hard work, and will require collaboration between the Public Authorities and the private sector, legal and technical teams and a wide range of operators which will be part of the “Operación Madrid Nuevo Norte”.
As advanced, the recent definitive approval of the planning amendment “Operación Madrid Nuevo Norte” and its forthcoming entry in force do not imply that building permits in accordance with the new uses to be implemented will be directly granted by the City Council. On the contrary, the implementation of the new planning layout and uses provided in the planning amendment shall require processing of further compulsory legal proceedings which need to take place in each of the sectors comprised in the new Town Plan Amendment. This will happen once the requirements made by the Regional Government are met by the City Council in the new planning document that the latter will have to submit again.
The “Operación Madrid Nuevo Norte” includes four areas, and the main permitted uses include tertiary use (including office activities), residential use, and infrastructure services.
Three of said four areas or sectors already contain detailed planning regulations, meaning that further specific planning regulations are not required. These three are the Specific Planning Areas “APE 8.20” Malmea – San Roque – Tres Olivos, “APE 8.21 Las Tablas – Oeste” and “APE 05.30 Centro de Negocios Chamartín”.
The applicable planning implementation system for such three areas is known under the Spanish legislation as the compensation system. This means that these areas will be privately developed, being required the submission to the City Council of a proposal for the application and definition of the compensation system, as set forth in the Land Law Act 9/2001 of the Autonomous Community of Madrid. Submission of the proposal for the application and definition of the compensation system corresponds to land owners in each of the sectors, that must represent at least 50% of the total surface area of each sector.
As previously mentioned, the planning amendment “Operación Madrid Nuevo Norte” affects to already developed urban land, due to the already existing infrastructures, buildings and uses, all of which had to be dealt with when drafting the new regulations. Therefore, a Master Agreement will be required to be entered among private owners, public entities and the City Council, that enhances coordination of the sectors involved and in anticipation to any development actions.
Only after that Master Agreement is settled by all operators, it will be possible to initiate before the City Council the administrative processing of the necessary planning implementation files prior to any urbanization works.
In conclusion, the urban transformation process of the North of Madrid that has just yet started with the finally approved planning amendment of the Town Planning Regulations has yet to overcome the final requirements ordered by the Regional Government. Once in force its implementation will entail more administrative proceedings before the new urbanization works can begin and building permits eventually be granted.