Plans to modernise ​​Olhão's city centre released for public comment

olhaoThe period for public discussion and individual comment about Olhão council’s detailed plan for the historic city centre started on October 28th and will run for a month.

The Historic Zone Detailed Plan is available on the council’s website and at the town hall during office hours (09.00 to 16.30 Monday to Friday.)

According to the council, one of the plan's objectives is "to ensure the rehabilitation of those buildings that are degraded or functionally inadequate, thus improving their living conditions and functionality."

The aim, according to the council, is to modernise the city’s urban infrastructure, to promote the general improvement of mobility, in particular through better management of public space, public roads and other traffic areas and promote accessibility for all.

The documents can be found at: city-of-olhao

The public has until November 28th to submit complaints, comments and suggestions by submitting the form on the website to the President of the Municipal Council of Olhão.

The plans include the raising of the roofline of selected buildings along the sea front Avenida 5 Outubro, the removal of selected old buildings, widespread repaving and the construction of a 20 metre viewing tower near the town hall which will overlook several recently renovated historic properties, significantly reducing their value and the enjoyment by the owners of their roof terraces.

Traditionalists and tourism business owners already have commented that Olhão "does not need modernising as this will reduce it tourism appeal," the very thing the council is aiming to increase.

One local property owner commented, “the council aims to modernise the city but by doing so starts to turn it into just another resort. The historic city centre simply needs signage and cleaning up, not new paving and smart street furniture. The number of shops that remain closed already gives an air of dereliction – maybe the mayor should concentrate on breathing some real life into Olhão, rather than sanitising it with smart ideas from a Lisbon based firm of architects which fails to grasp the essential appeal of the place.”

This and other comments will be looked at by the town hall but with councillors acting as amateur town planners, dedicated to the mantra that ‘new is good,’ Olhão's city centre may be in danger of losing tourists rather than attracting them.

In recent years, a steady stream of foreign buyers have been purchasing and refurbishing old properties in Olhão, a natural urban regeneration of tens of millions that has cost the council nothing. Buyers, mainly from northern Europe, have been attracted to the city by its authenticity.

Should this authentic appeal diminish, so will interest and buyer numbers and the vicious circle that once saw the city almost closed for business, may return. The removal of hundreds of square metres of cobblestones, to be replaced by anodyne machine-cut paving stones, was sharply criticised by the foreign community in Olhão and hardly at all by locals.

The mayor may have gone too far with the proposed modernisation of the city but if there are no complaints from those who are able to vote, this list excludes many foreigners who have failed to register or who do not qualify,  Olhão's progress towards a 'me too' modernised Algarve city will expose the conculsion that it actually has little to offer but fish. 

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0 #8 Anne Kelly 2016-11-16 01:26
I can't believe the people of Olhao would agree to these monstrous changes, to what is a beautiful and original centre. It would make more sense to repair and preserve what is already in place.
What is so special and appreciated by visitors about Olhao is the fact that it is refreshingly traditional , please retain and build on this originality. Fads and trends come and go but tradition stands the test of time. ⚓⚓
+3 #7 Richard Robbins 2016-11-09 09:24
By removing the calcadas, building a tower, and destroying the intrinsic beauty of Olhao, the mayor risks the possibility of a mass exodus from Olhao and NO more investment from foreigners. Please leave the traditional beauty of Olhao alone - look how Albufeira has been ruined and many other towns along the southern coast.
+4 #6 Sarah Black 2016-11-06 12:15
I am unable to attend the meeting in November but I strongly urge the council of Olhao to have nothing to do with these idiotic ideas coming from Lisbon. Please leave this beautiful authentic town free from this crazy modernisation plan. I bought a run down house and have spent a considerable amount of money locally having it refurbished , there are many more like me. We bought in this town because we love it the way it is. Please leave Olhao as it is.
+3 #5 Kathy Houston 2016-11-06 10:09
There seems to me to be little logic in any of these plans and that these 'improvements' would be seriously counter productive. It is the history and charm of Olhao which attracted us and many others. I agree with the comment that the town could be better improved by cleaning some areas, such as the the cleanliness of the existing harbour. Rather than the Camera acting as ameture town planners, perhaps a consultative, tax paying, representative group could be established to be an integral part of this so called improvement plan. A mixture of residents, ex pats and investors would, perhaps, produce a more balanced and less biased view. The town is not rich so why waste precious money on what is not needed instead of things which would enhance Olhao for all.
+7 #4 Pascal Odul 2016-11-04 14:19
Baixa de Olhao IS NOT a zoo. A viewing tower will destroy the character of the old town by introducing a new open space and a high rise tower. It will destroy the efforts that we as private investors have made to redynamise the town at no cost for the city. Will they also add panels in the viewing tower saying "do not feed the animals"?
+4 #3 Peter Booker 2016-11-01 10:27
«MyiArts cria petição contra retirada da calçada portuguesa até 2017»

The above address shows a petition against the taking up of calçada in Lisbon, on the ground that calçada is a part of the Immovable Portuguese Heritage. I know that women with fashionable heels find calçada a trial, but this type of pavement is unique to the Lusophone world, and as you say Ed, is one of the reasons for foreigners moving to Portugal.
+8 #2 Annabel Aguirre 2016-10-31 10:50
The cobblestones of Olhao are wonderful and a unique and precious asset, the architecture and character of the town also. I really hope that the council will listen to the views of the many who come to Olhao because they appreciate these things so much.
If the council wish to improve Olhao for the health and wellbeing of all, they should really devote their resources to cleaning up the sea and the waters that go into the sea to preserve a unique and valuable marine environment.
+9 #1 Dave Pearce 2016-10-30 11:03
I fully agree with the comment in the above article. The construction of new buildings such as the "Cultural" one behind Rue de Baretta will continue the desrruction of Olhao's historic character and I for one will no longer be recommending Olhao to others as a place to buy and renovate property. The Mayor and his advisors appear to be determined to destroy everything that has previously been a reason for investing in Olhao's future. The people of Olhao deserve to have the future of Olhao safeguarded and improved rather than destroyed. The people of Olhao need to speak up, stand up and have an influence on the future of Olhao before it is too late

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