Felib, the federation that represents Balearic town halls, has dismissed the claim made by Proinba, the property developers' association, that the rising price of housing is the result of a lack of developable land.
The Felib president, Joan Carles Verd, says that this land is determined by urban plans, which in turn are influenced by islands' plans for intervention in tourist areas (PIAT). This limits town halls' room for manoeuvre, he notes, but adds that there has in any event to be a balance in order to prevent "mindless" urban development,
"We are bound hand and foot by current regulations. Hence, we cannot be flexible. It is true that demand for housing is increasing, but we don't share the developers' impression that there is a scarcity of land."
Adding to the debate, the president of the builders' association, Eduardo López, says that the four islands have the same problem. "No one knows exactly what developable land there is, either in terms of square metres or location. Therefore, the associations for construction and development, with the help of Felib, will be undertaking a study in order to bring this information to light."
López understands the developers' point of view but observes that if there isn't land at an affordable price, it is difficult to build housing for the average citizen. "Luxury housing is being built that is beyond the reach of most people. In Palma, there is land but it isn't cheap. Elsewhere on the island, there is also land but we don't know how it is distributed. And current restrictions don't help in clarifying the situation."
Proinba insists that there is a shortage of land and that land which is available is in the hands of a few, which therefore drives up speculation.
In Palma, deputy mayor for urban planning Antoni Noguera reckons that the building of 1,400 new homes each year - as called for by the developers - is out of the question. There have to be other solutions to housing problems, such as social rent or property rehabilitation.