The so-called Budget Accompaniment Law, which contains the fiscal and financial measures for the year, usually incorporates modifications of all kinds of laws, some not directly related to the annual accounts. In the last project approved by the Government, a modification has been introduced that removes from the municipalities of the Metropolitan Area (AMB) some of their powers in urban planning, which come to depend directly on the Generalitat. A formula that comes after the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia annulled the controversial plan of L’Hospitalet to bury the Gran Vía, precisely with the reasoning that the competences of the AMB were violated.
This provision is contained in article 76 of the Accompanying Law, which has just reached the Parliament. The drafting makes two modifications to the law of the Metropolitan Area, the first in the sense of making the Generalitat prevail in the drafting of master plans with an impact beyond the limits of a single municipality and, the second, to empower the Government and their bodies to draft and approve these urban plans. In this way the powers now both administrations, AMB and Generalitat, share these powers, but the second will be subject to the guidelines of the first.
The modification of urban competences comes in the middle of the legal battle for the urban plan of L’Hospitalet, which aims to bury the Gran Vía from Plaza Europa to the Llobregat river, which would free up a large extension of developable land. According to the city council, which is promoting the project, the Territori department of the Government approved the urban plan in 2017, but the Catalan Supreme Court declared it null and void in November 2020, in response to a contentious administrative appeal presented by En Comú Podem.
The reasons put forward by the court at the time were of a competence nature, since they understood that the project should have been approved within the Metropolitan Area, whose presidency rests with the mayoress of Barcelona, and not by the Government. In this way, the TSJC saw a “violation of the principle of normative hierarchy” and “an insurmountable lack of competence”, which completely annulled the urban planning approach. Last month, the TSJC also rejected the appeal filed by the Government and the City Council of L’Hospitalet, for which the only way to rescue him was a modification of this type.
Sources from En Comú Podem consider that the article introduced is “a scandal” and a “recentralization of competences” that will turn against the cities themselves. From the group they plan to use the parliamentary procedure to oppose this modification.
For its part, the Government justifies the measure in its memory of the law, arguing that it is a clarification of the current legislation. As indicated, the AMB law contains a “terminological coincidence” with regard to urban plans, for which “the authority has been questioned [del Govern] to formulate them in the metropolitan area. “Something that the Generalitat understands does not make sense. According to this point of view, the objective of the amendment is” to clarify, indirectly, that, in the metropolitan area, [el Govern] it can formulate urban master plans in accordance with the general requirements established by the urban planning law “.