Olhão’s Left Bloc, ever-attuned to the zeitgeist of popular opinion, has joined in the furore over the council’s plans to modernise the city’s historic centre.
The Detail Plans for the historic zone are undergoing a period of public discussion and the volume has been increasing as the council has not made copies of the plans easily available to the public and many of those that have looked over the project online are aghast at the scale and brutality of the proposed work.
For the Left Bloc, "controversial and unacceptable decisions have been taken that are an attack against the preservation of the historical characteristics of the typical architecture of Olhão and against the lifestyles and identities of the residents."
This Left Bloc comments sums up the situation well, with locals in revolt over the planned widespread destruction of the city’s iconic calçada pedestrian areas. These paved areas feature many geometric designs laid down under the stewardship of previous City Fathers that now reflect and enhance the maritime heritage of this least-disturbed Algarvian location. Machine-cut paving slabs will not have the same effect in evoking charm and history.
The Left Bloc’s communiqué points to "the increase in build height, dubious arrangements that presuppose demolitions, the building of a 21 metre viewing tower and the destruction of the Portuguese calçada in favour of new uncharacteristic pavements."
The Bloquistas point to the unfavorable opinion of the Direcção Geral do Território e and the conditional opinions of Turismo de Portugal, the Instituto Nacional para a Reabilitação, the Direcção Regional de Cultura do Algarve, the Comissão de Coordenação do Desenvolvimento Regional do Algarve and refer to the favourable opinion of ANA (aeroportos de Portugal SA) and ANPC – Comando Distrital de Operações de Socorro de Faro which, they say, are hardly institutions directly or deeply involved with the historic centre.
"The Detail Plan of the Historic Zone suffers from important gaps and errors of perspective that distort the concept of an historic district, being merely a plan for the safeguarding the buildings," say the Bloquistas who refer to "an expenditure of € 100,000 for the rehabilitation of buildings which is not enough, nor does the plan contemplate any intervention in projects to revitalise lifestyles or traditional crafts and activities."
The Left Bloc in Olhão want to see the feel and heart of city centre preserved while fixing up old buildings as well as repairing, not modernising, the urban landscape.
By creating the right conditions the city centre can regenerate itself, especially with the continuing investment from foreign property buyers who already have spent tens of millions of private capital.
A public meeting has been arranged at which the council's plans for Olhão's historic zone will be explained by local (non-council) experts and will be open for discussion with the public.
All are invited for 6pm Friday 11th November to the ‘Sociedade Recreativa Progresso Olhanense,’ 69 Avenida da República, between Olhão's Post Office and its Court building.
For details, see: http://algarvedailynews.com/features/legal/10286-olhao-meeting-en