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Olhão council scheme to modernise historic centre

olhaocalcada2Proposals to redevelop Olhão’s historic centre have been submitted to a council whose recent destruction of four of the city’s historic cobbled squares seems to have been just the start or a project to modernise history.

The mayor of Olhão and the city's councillors attended a presentation by architect Pedro Ravara from Baixa Atelier de Arquitectura Lda in LIsbon who outlined a plan to regenerate Olhão’s historical centre and seafront.

The council, oblivious to the ridicule its recent urban efforts have caused, states that its detailed plan for the historic City of Olhão, “is intended to enhance the existing urban fabric and its public spaces."

“The intervention model proposed suggests the continuity of the historical process that defined this historic area, giving greater vividness" read a statement of civic waffle which suggests that by modernising Olhão’s charming old centre, somehow this will make it more historic and more people will come.

Parts of the proposal are indeed sensible with a detailed look at traffic flow through the old town and the consequent increase in pedestrian areas, other parts are highly contentious and dictatorial with council interference to private property where buildings are not considered pretty enough.

A future phase is likely to be the creation of an Area of Urban Renewal, which will allow private access to specific funding for community facilities to 'impact on job creation, sales and the catering trade,' said the council, without explaining quite what this means.

The development programme for the Great Plan will cost around €12 million, to be spent on some destruction, compensation to owners, pavements, planting and infrastructure.

The third stage of the plan now awaits a council vote and "is intended to highlight the unique appeal of Olhão and to use the old centre as a development engine to project the image of the city. For this, you need to set rules and guidelines for proper rehabilitation."

After the proposal inevitable is passed by the council there will be a period of public discussion. Locals are encouraged to register their opnion but as with so many of these wonderful civic schemes if the council decides that is what it wants, the legacy is secured, the mayor's name goes on the plaque and the diggers start.

The council fails to notice that the recent remarkable influx of tourists and property buyers from all over Europe come to the city exactly because it is as it is, mildly decandent, fun, cheap, and rather louche.

Changing the city into something it isn’t will spoil exactly the characteristics that draw people to its heart.


See also: http://www.cm-olhao.pt/en/areasatuacao/urbanismo/regeneracao-urbana/i-seminario-de-regeneracao-urbana