Olhão council has approved mayor Pina’s proposal to improve and restore the city’s historic centre, in part by offering tax breaks to owners wishing to undertake work.
The plan now needs to be voted through by the full assembly and represents a major step forward in the council's plans to preserve and promote the historic zone as unique in the region.
The overall plan is to define the historic centre as a development zone and to promote urban rehabilitation by offering tax breaks to private and commmercial building owners.
The historic zone will be managed directly by the council without any fancy partnerships or corporate agreements and Pina stressed the importance of this project in his plans for the regeneration of the economic activities in the historic centre. There is a need to renovate and preserve the buildings while improving the living conditions and the council now seems on track to make this happen.
Pina noted the enormous rise in local tourism bringing money to associated businesses. This has created new jobs and kept existing ones. Preserving the historic centre will help this process as with tourism comes enterprise which means jobs.
It is hoped that earlier plans to continue to pave with despised machine-cut paving slabs that already have blighted several squares in the centre will be shelved and that attention now will be paid to the preservation and repair of the historic calçada paving which tourists agree is an essential part of Olhão’s charm.
Pina’s proposal means that existing property owners wishing to renovate will qualify for tax breaks, as well as those buying to renovate.
Pina said his plan is “intended to attract new investment to the area, more residents, to boost economic activity and to regulate the area’s development so we do not lose its identity and characteristics that distinguish it from other parts of the Algarve.”
The ‘I Love Olhão’ Facebook page has been a showcase for the views of residents wanting to see the preservation of the historic city centre alongside sympathetic repair and renovation so as to maintain its charm and attraction.
The formerly run down city is experiencing an increase in inward investment as mostly foreign buyers are attracted by the authenticity of the location and the chance of doing up old buildings that were once great beauties but have seen better days.
The definition of the historic zone and its management by the council, rather than inviting in outside influences, should at the very least ensure that local stakeholder's views are taken into account and the wealth of experince and expertise available to the council now will be drawn on.