Madrid Master Plan Prioritizes People over Cars and Development over Regulation

Completed about every 15 years, Madrid's General Urban Plan sets out a long-term vision for the city's development. The newest iteration replaces a "dud" from 1997 that has "dogged the city for years," reports Feargus O'Sullivan.

December 5, 2013, 8:00 AM PST

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


Madrid's prior General Urban Plan, which was based on overly-optimistic growth projections, and Spain's deep recession have left the city in a bind. "[T]he city fringes are marked by empty construction sites and avenues that go nowhere," notes O'Sullivan, and "by concentrating on homes, the city overlooked the need to build work premises, schools, and social facilities, making the new neighborhoods even less livable."

"Madrid now plans to stop the rot, in particular by slashing home building schemes," he adds. "A plan to construct a new 130,000-home neighborhood will be junked, with much of the allotted space to be taken over by parkland. Meanwhile, to help get other parts of the economy going, Madrid will radically simplify planning procedures."  

In a move that O'Sullivan says is likely to cause dissent, the city will loosen historical protections to boost development. Other initiatives are focused on reducing car use and making streets more pedestrian-friendly. 

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