Archive photo of a rooftop swimming pool in Palma. | Joan Torres


Palma town hall has confirmed its intention to prohibit the building of swimming pools on rooftops of buildings in the old centre and Es Jonquet as well as buildings elsewhere in the city which have listed status.

In response, Luis Martín, the president of the Proinba association of developers, believes that what amounts to an internal decision by the town hall will generate legal uncertainty because of what will be an "interpretive rule". In his view, there should be an amendment to the city's general urban plan which is clear and in writing.

Martín doesn't accept arguments given by the town hall about water consumption and preservation of the urban landscape. "Do people on lower floors not consume water? If pools are seen, that's the fault of successive urban plans that have allowed crazy differences in the heights of buildings. A home with the type of comforts people demand isn't a bad thing."

The vice-president of the Balearic college of estate agents, José Miguel Artieda, isn't against the measure but agrees that it should be framed through a revision of the urban plan. "This allows for more time and for people to respond. Purchasers have been taken by surprise, having bought properties thinking they could instal a pool. Now they won't be able to." He adds: "Justifying the decision with environmental and visual impact reasons seems bad to us. I'd like to know just how many pools there are on Palma rooftops."

Residents' groups see things differently. Joan Forteza, president of the federation of residents associations, argues that pools are a threat to coexistence as they suggest that properties will be used as holiday rentals. They are also "a luxury that we cannot permit", while they create an environmental problem. Salts and chlorine discharged from pools harm treatment plants' purification systems.

Miquel Obrador, president of a different federation, says that water is precious and that building so many pools shouldn't be allowed. He suggests, however, that the measure has come "too late", pointing to the manner, for example, in which former fishermen's homes on the seafront have been turned into luxury homes. (He's thinking of El Molinar.)

Forteza's federation reckons that there are up to 5,000 pools in Palma, that many are illegal and that 25% of them are on rooftops. Given the size of these pools, Forteza calculates that the amount of water needed to fill them is equivalent to the content of five water tankers.