Halfway through the term of Manuela Carmena, in 2017, her team launched a plan to compensate for the excessive attention that the center of the capital was receiving in its political action: the reforms of Plaza España and Gran Vía, added to Madrid Central, they were filling the local media with headlines and the districts of the periphery were complaining demanding investments for areas that presented greater degradation and need of repairs.
As a result of this reaction, a plan arose to renovate eleven squares on the outskirts. First in the form of an architectural competition to find ideas, through the College of Architects of Madrid (COAM), then with citizen participation through the collection of ideas and voting on projects in Decide Madrid and then promoting the works for the second legislature of Carmena.
The eleven squares chosen were La Vaguada (in the district of Fuencarral-El Pardo), Plaza Cívica de Lucero (Latina), Emperatriz (Carabanchel), Puerto Canfranc (Puente de Vallecas), Encuentro (Moratalaz), Misterios (Ciudad Lineal), Mar de Cristal (Hortaleza), the Plaza Mayor de Villaverde, Plaza Cívica de San Blas, Duquesa de Osuna (Barajas) and La Remonta (Tetuán).
But Almeida’s arrival at Cibeles in June 2019 cut short the planned plans. Although in September the mayor’s team assured that the reforms were going ahead and would be financed in 2020: “We are not going to stop the remodeling of the squares, but rather we are going to put order in the mess that you left,” the current councilor told him. of Works, Paloma García Romero, to his predecessor, José Manuel Calvo. “We are going to make an adequate and agreed project with neighbors and Boards”, she added.
Three years after these words, the Works area has only begun the reform of one of the promised eleven squares, that of La Remonta. It is the only one located inside the M-30 (the rest are outside), in the district where the mayor resides and Councilor García Romero herself is president of the PP group. The rest await projects, special plans or have been definitively ruled out.
Of the eleven works on the squares, two have been completely ruled out by the Madrid City Council. These are the Plaza de los Misterios in Ciudad Lineal (the one located next to the Alcalá Norte shopping center) and also the Plaza del Encuentro in Moratalaz. The consistory considers that its reform implies important effects on public transport lines. At the moment there are no known alternatives for updating these two spaces.
Added to these two is the lack of a project for what was to be the Plaza Cívica de Mar de Cristal, where Almeida tried to build a dissuasive car park that ended up being ruled out by the neighborhood opposition. The project chosen by the neighbors in a process in which more than 8,000 inhabitants of the neighborhood participated, envisaged a park with a pedestrian-cycling street that would structure it, a connection with nearby residential buildings and several meeting spaces, as well as pavilions where various activities.
In addition to these three, four other squares have a fairly long administrative process ahead of them to reach their reform. In the cases of the Plaza Cívica de San Blas and the Plaza de la Duquesa de Osuna, in Barajas, the approval of two special plans is necessary before undertaking the works, which will delay its construction -if it arrives- until the next legislature.
In the case of the Puerto de Canfranc square, in Vallecas, the entire project is associated with the construction of a municipal car park for residents with 466 parking spaces. The deadlines, in this case, depend on the Mobility area. The works on the car park, which have not yet started, could end towards the end of 2023. Afterwards, the reform of the square would be undertaken.
The state of the Plaza Cívica de Lucero, an ambitious project that included building a market, sports and therapeutic pools, multipurpose rooms and music and dance classrooms, is also unknown.
The three squares on their way to reform
Of the eleven promised square reforms, in three cases the steps to make them a reality have already begun, although at the moment it is unknown when the works will begin in two of them and if the works that will be carried out will be similar to those initially planned. These are the actions in La Vaguada, Plaza de la Emperatriz (Carabanchel) and two plazas in the center of Villaverde.
The Madrid City Council approved several modifications last April to increase the budget for the Works area, with almost four million euros dedicated to the three places mentioned. Specifically, 700,000 euros were approved for the renovation of La Vaguada, 1,667,000 euros, in the case of Carabanchel, and another 1,442,000 to fix part of the Ágata and Mayor squares in Villaverde in 2022.
Of these three cases, only details of the first are known: last Thursday, the City Council announced that it will carry out the remodeling of La Vaguada to enhance the value of the pond, whose raised edge will provide the residents with a large continuous bench and the creation of a pergola that provides shade. More trees will also be planted, the pavement and furniture will be renewed and the place will be made more accessible. The approved budget (0.7 million) is less than half the cost calculated by the authors of the initial project (1.6).
Will these reforms follow the general lines of the winning projects? In the absence of confirmation from the Works area, the only case where work has started, La Remonta (Tetouan), shows an interest in this being the case: the council has respected the spirit of the proposal voted by the neighborhood to improve accessibility and create green living areas in the largest arcaded square in Madrid.
More Madrid: “What Almeida does is unbalance”
The main opposition party regrets that only one of the squares designed in Manuela Carmena’s mandate is under construction, “despite the fact that they respond to proposals from the neighborhood itself, from the citizens themselves, agreed by participatory procedures where they gave their opinion close to of 100,000 people”, recalls Paco Pérez, councilor for Más Madrid.
The mayor criticizes the fact that the rest of the projects are stopped or have been discarded, while reforms are undertaken “quickly and quickly” less necessary in General Perón or in Puerta del Sol, “a work with a budget of 11 million euros , which is not justified by the current state of the pavements and by the proper functioning of the square as the center of the city and crossroads”, he points out.
“The truth is that the Almeida government, instead of rebalancing, what it does is unbalance”, he assures while pointing out that the budget for Works in Public Space and the actions underway are concentrated in the central almond: “79% of the budget for urban interventions is concentrated in this area, which only accounts for 20% of the road surface. On the other hand, Latina, San Blas-Canillejas, Moratalaz or Vicálvaro do not directly have any investment in this program. Puente de Vallecas represents barely 1.94% of the budget of this program, Usera 0.14% and Carabanchel 0.01%”, he affirms.