Sunday, December 5

The Community of Madrid changes the Heritage Law that allowed the demolition of Canalejas


The PP has taken seven years to return to constitutionality the Law of Historical Heritage of the Community of Madrid, whose 2013 reform was overturned a year later by the Constitutional Court. At the end of July 2014, the body annulled eight articles of the 1998 update of the rule and since then the region has lived in limbo. Until this Tuesday. The team of the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Sports, Marta Rivera de la Cruz, has concluded the draft of the rectification and has already shared it with the opposition parties. From this moment on, the consultation and amendment procedure is started to improve what has been presented.

Everything that has been lost in ‘Operation Canalejas’

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And what is proposed is a much more extensive and detailed rule, with an article that doubles the previous one: from 45 in 2013 it goes to 101 articles. This newspaper has had access to the final draft of the new law, which declares itself contrary to “the classical historical-artistic notion” and even proposes a change of nomenclature: it will be called the Cultural Heritage Law instead of the traditional “Historical Heritage Law. “. In addition, the historical, social and natural context that surrounds the goods and that allows their understanding becomes important. And new categories to protect are included, as well as the specific recognition of Intangible Cultural Heritage assets. At first glance, it is a more protectionist law, as a consequence of its unconstitutional precedent, which does not seem to invade state powers in matters of plunder.

In the preamble, the PP of 2021 says that the PP law of 2013 had a consequence “not intended or desired by the legislator” which was to “clarify the distribution of powers between the State and autonomous communities in matters of historical heritage.” However, the limits of powers are very clear and defined since 1985, thanks to the State Historical Heritage Law. No other regional law had dared to exceed its powers and end up overthrown due to unconstitutional concurrence. The current PP does recognize that “the changes introduced in the regulation of the highest level of protection invaded the state’s competence to fight looting and that therefore could not be approved by means of a regional law.” Meanwhile, between the PP of Esperanza Aguirre and Ignacio González and that of Isabel Díaz Ayuso, Canalejas no longer exists.

A handwritten law

The law, approved in June 2013, was unanimously rejected by the three opposition parties, who agreed that the 45 redesigned articles did not serve to guarantee the protection of Madrid’s heritage, but to reduce it. That law was made suddenly, by an unexpected order from Esperanza Aguirre, who had not included in her electoral program the reformulation of a norm as important as this one. On June 19 of that year, with González at the helm of the Presidency, it was executed in record time: a year and a half to draft, sign and approve. In the reform of that mess, a delay of almost eight years will accumulate.

Esperanza Aguirre’s team was in a great hurry to incorporate a nuance in Article 23, which dealt with displacement and segregation. Section ‘two’ went on to say that “historical monuments and gardens may not be subject to parcel segregation. However, it will only be admitted exceptionally when duly justified causes concur and with prior authorization from the competent Ministry in matters of historical heritage.”

And the parcel grouping was admitted when the OHL owner, Juan Miguel Villar Mir, wanted to buy the Canalejas seven-building complex from the owner of Banco Santander, Emilio Botín, in order to tear them down and build a luxury hotel and commercial complex. Days after the publication of the new law, the purchase operation of what would end up becoming a lot with facades, thanks to the 2013 law, was signed for 215 million euros. A year before, Villar Mir had bought Esperanza Aguirre a portrait of Goya for five million euros, which brought the family of the then president of the Community of Madrid out of ruin.

Minimal interventions

In the law proposed by the PP of Ayuso there is no trace of the possibility of land consolidation. What article 47 of the new regulation says is that a property declared BIC is inseparable from its surroundings and cannot be displaced or removal, “unless it is essential due to force majeure or social interest”. In fact, the section on intervention criteria in movable and immovable BICs is much more developed than the previous one and clarifies that the intervention will be “minimal” and that, this is new, “the contributions of different epochs existing in the good “. It was precisely one of the justifications on which the technical report was based to demolish the two protected buildings in the Canalejas complex: they said that there were too many additions and the original value had been lost.

The draft Law includes two new categories in real estate declared of Cultural Interest and they add up to a total of ten. The “Industrial site” is a new addition and refers to the “place that contains goods related to the modes of extraction, production, commercialization, transport or equipment related to industrial, technical or scientific culture”. The other incorporation is the “cultural itinerary”, which is the “means of communication whose cultural meaning is related to the exchange and dialogue between localities”.

Among the most anticipated appearances, the list of categories of intangible assets stands out. It refers to the uses, representations, knowledge or techniques of the communities. There are up to eleven categories that include oral traditions and expressions, place names, performing arts (dance and music), popular religiosity, artisan techniques, popular medicine, natural landscapes, forms of collective socialization, gastronomy and social uses and festive events, “including bullfighting”. This quotation mark that refers to the bulls did not appear in the drafts prior to the final one, consulted by this newspaper, and which had generated a notable annoyance in the ranks of the popular ones. Finally there is a specific mention of bullfighting that, surely, will also satisfy Vox.



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