The government today brought to an end what has been described as urbanisation “Bauzanismo”, a reference to various laws introduced by the previous government which liberalised developments for tourism and farming and rural land. A decree of urgent measures has been passed by the cabinet that revokes or freezes certain articles under the three relevant laws that were approved by the Bauza administration.

What this means is that possibilities of building on rural land or of expanding hotels without due regard to municipal urban plans are now frozen (at least until the start of 2018). Hotels will, therefore, not be able to add more floors to their establishments in the so-called mature zones (parts of resorts deemed to be outdated or obsolete) and nor will the hotels be authorised to make a change of use. Likewise, large sports facilities, such golf courses and polo fields, cannot be created on rural land. A further prohibition will apply to hotel projects by renowned architects (something that the first tourism minister in the Bauzá administration, Carlos Delgado, had been particularly keen on). For rural hotels, these will require there to be a declaration of general interest in order for development to be permitted. In addition, no type of land can now be declared to be for touristic use, and this relates to both the tourism law and the farming law. Conditions for authorising agrotourism are being tightened and the development of tourist facilities on farming land has been suspended. Under the land law, the amnesty that was to allow legalisation of buildings is also to be suspended, while the building of properties of more than 450 square metres is to be outlawed.

Most of the provisions under the decree are frozen until the end of December 2017. The government, therefore, has a two-year period during which it can amend the laws completely. The temporary suspension for two years is now applicable, albeit that parliament needs to ratify the measures contained in the decree within a month. Vice-President Barceló insists that the government is not seeking to deter investment but wishes to change the economic model in order to give it a more sustainable future.

“The previous development model created real-estate bubbles, and we are not about to repeat such an error.”

The decree, he accepts, buys the government time in being able to draft new rules that are more respectful of the land. “We are suspending aspects of previous laws that represented increased pressures for land use.”