Staff Reporter

A TRAM connection to Palma and the airport and the protection of the green area of Ses Fontanelles are at the centre of the winning bid to transform the Playa de Palma.

The West8 firm led by prestigious Dutch architect Adrian Geuze was unanimously selected by the jury of the competition to carry out the major project.
Among the main elements of the West8 bid, besides the tram connecting Palma to the beach with a branch line to the airport, are the use of natural resources, the creation of a boulevard behind Arenal, prioritisation of the tourist and protection of the environment.

According to the Balearic Minister for Tourism, Francesc Buils, one of the most important elements of the plan was the protection of the green area which breaks up the rest of the developed coastline at Ses Fontanelles, just after Can Pastilla. “We want to bring together protection with economic activity through the private sector,” he explained after West8 had been announced as the winner of the competition. “It's a sustainable decision and will improve the face of the area.” The Balearic Government believes that the West8 bid “is the best to pilot the regeneration of a mature tourist zone”. The plan's image of the coastline and new boulevard alongside a contemporaneous interpretation of traditional Majorcan values had unanimously won over the jury, according to the Government, because it incorporated criteria relating to sustainability and consolidated the new identity of the Playa de Palma in the future.

Alongside Buils, representatives of the Majorcan Island Council, the central Government, and the municipal councils of Palma and Llucmajor were present at the announcement of the winning entry, which was praised for “stimulating sun and beach tourism”.

Both Isabel Oliver, the Majorcan Counsellor for Tourism, and Aina Calvo, the Mayor of Palma, highlighted the proposed tram between Palma and the tourist zone of the Playa de Palma, which will obviously act as a stimulus to tourism outside the massive resort at Arenal.

Another ambition of West8 is to separate the tourist and residential uses of the area.
Though the broad outlines of the regeneration plan are now known, the detail remains to be finalised.
West8 now have three months to come up with a master plan.
Buils said that it was expected that the first injection of funds would take place in October.
The private sector, according to the representatives of the different public administrations, has a fundamental role to play in making sure that the project is a success.

But the main “motor” of the regeneration plan is public funding. The timeframe for the works has not yet been fixed but it is expected to take between 10 and 15 years. According to the Spanish Secretary General of Tourism, Amparo Fernández, public funding must drive the project by opening up possibilities and opportunities for the private sector to come on board. “One has to invigorate private funding with public because the total regeneration of a mature tourist zone is in play,” she said.