Together, properties in rural areas would create Majorca's second largest municipality. | Archive

If all the properties in the Majorcan countryside were to be grouped together, the resultant population would be more than a quarter of Palma's. On rural (or rustic) land there are 53,170 homes with capacity for almost 112,000 inhabitants. In terms of comparison with municipalities other than Palma, the population would be well over twice that of Majorca's second largest, Calvia.

This figure has been highlighted for the first time and it has come from work carried out in drafting the new land plan, a project still in its embryonic phase and which is unlikely to be completed before the elections in May next year.

The study has looked at the number of properties on rural fincas. Since 1995, there have been almost 8,500 permissions for home building, a number which suggests that there a whole load of houses that have been built illegally. At present, the research being conducted for the land plan has not distinguished between legal or illegal buildings. The main emphasis is on preventing progressively more development in the countryside.

One proposal for the plan has been an increase in the minimum size of a plot for building. This depends on the level of protection. For so-called common rustic land, there has to be a minimum of 14,000 square metres. For land with special protected status, there are two categories, meaning minimums of 50,000 and 200,000 square metres. The proposal has been for common rustic land - an increase to 21,000 square metres. Mercedes Garrido, the councillor for land at the Council of Majorca, is not inclined to make the increase.

A principal aim of the Council is to ensure that countryside land doesn't end up becoming like a "grand hotel" of holiday rental properties scattered across it. The Council's PIAT plan for intervention in tourism areas will see to it that this doesn't occur.