Applications to build on rural land in Majorca have been rising sharply. | E.B.

Concern that new restrictions will impede the construction of homes (or extensions to existing properties) on "rustic" rural land has led to a rush in applications. Mercedes Garrido, the councillor for land at the Council of Majorca, reckons that these requests have shot up by 40%. Firm figures will be known at the end of the month.

Garrido made this observation during the Council's full session on Thursday, at which there was approval of an El Pi motion to not increase the current minimum sizes of plots that can be developed: 14,000 square metres for a property on communal rustic land; 50,000 square metres in a protected zone; 200,000 square metres for building in areas of maximum protection.

Antoni Pastor, the El Pi spokesperson, said that the motion was being presented because of suspicions that Podemos are applying pressure for an amendment to  the island's territory plan which would increase the minimums. Garrido assured him that this amendment was being ruled out "for now".

The concerns expressed by El Pi in part stemmed from the fact that Podemos have sought to block Council infrastructure projects, such as the motorway link to Lloseta. With regard to the increased number of applications for building, Garrido argued that this was because of improved economic activity rather than fear of restrictions.

During the period of the previous Council administration (led by the Partido Popular), the annual number of applications was around 150. Between 2000 and 2004, it had been 700, with the peak number (1,289) having been in 1999.

Garrido added that her department is currently working on changes to urban planning regulations. A specific modification is shortly to be presented which will address errors contained in the 2004 regulations. There is to be an in-depth review of regulations because, as she pointed out, they are out of date in some respects.