I recently wrote an article about the conversion of obsolete hotels into residential accommodation. The Majorca Hoteliers Federation was proposing that the government made provision for change of use.

The reasons were: there is a great deal of obsolescence, despite all the investment in recent years; not all hotel companies are flush with investment capacity; hotel companies face a liquidity crisis; demand for tourist accommodation will be down; there is a housing shortage.

The government has now announced that there will be this provision, indicating that change of use will be for social housing, which is what the federation had suggested. Wednesday’s announcement specified “protected” housing, which means VPO properties for which the government sets prices - for sale and for rent.

It is as yet unclear how this will work in practice, but in principle it is an excellent idea, and it is to be backed up by what will be crucial in making it work - rapid processing of building permissions and streamlining of procedures. This is fundamental because change of use from tourist to residential accommodation has been tried before. The government doesn’t really need new legislation, as the 2012 tourism law has this change of use provision. But a key reason why that law failed was town hall and municipal plans’ classifications of usage.

Let’s hope that this time it does work and also that conversion is in areas where affordable accommodation is most badly needed. The resorts may be quiet at the moment, but they won’t always be.

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