Albufeira council's open consultation process highlights Olhão's 'bare minimum' approach

albufeiramarinaAlbufeira council has been keen to discuss its version of the new municipal plan with its residents at a meeting held in the Paços do Concelho Building. This was the first of many such meeting to be held across the council area to involve locals in Albufeira’s future.

The current municipal plan (PDM) has been in force since 1995 and, because it is considered out of sync with current needs, the council hired an external team that is developing work that will lead to the drafting of a new plan.

Ricardo Tomé from RTGEO, the company helping to develop the new masterplan, said that "this process can not be done behind closed doors, we have to listen to the people and collect their suggestions so that the future PDM reflects the main concerns of the population so that the strategy will make Albufeira a modern, competitive and high quality-of-life area for present and future generations."

The next public hearing sessions are scheduled for Albufeira’s parishes to ensure everyone gets a chance to offer their opinions.

How different are the events in Olhão where the council’s plan to alter the PDM to modernise the historic centre has involved as little public consultation as legally possible.

The devastating plans were launched on the council’s website on 28th October with a note saying these plans also are available at the council’s offices during working hours.

The council reception has no idea where the plans may be on public display as they are not. Council staff have been referring walk-in enquirers to ‘take a ticket’ which involves considerable waiting time and an uncertain outcome. Inquiries emailed to the mayor as to whether this is a deliberate ploy elicited no response.

Locals are outraged at the proposed removal of thousands of square metres of city centre calçada paving,  one of Olhão’s defining features, and the construction of a six storey viewing tower overshadowing a central area opposite the council offices that recently has seen close to €750,000 of private investment in several historic houses which now will be overshadowed and their roof terraces open to public gaze.

A public meeting set up by concerned locals is scheduled for Friday 11th of November (see: 'Public meeting to discuss the modernisation of Olhão's historic centre') at which concerns will be expressed that, despite the council finally having defined Olhão’s historic centre, it now want to create a modern centre with machine-cut paving slabs, inappropriate street furniture and a continuation of harsh ‘a la mode’ lighting more appropriate for an out of town shopping mall carpark.

Albufeira’s full engagement with its ratepayers will bear dividends as it is invariably locals that know what is needed to encourage tourism and inward investment.

Similarly, two public meetings will be held in Almancil and Boliqueime next week to explain why Loulé council is altering its municipal plan (PDM) and reviewing its urbanisation and building regulations.

The first meeting is on Monday, November 14th at Almancil’s Dr. António de Sousa Agostinho school at 18:00 with the second happening the next day at the same time at Boliqueime’s EB Prof. Dr. Aníbal Cavaco Silva school. There will be time for questions after each meeting.

Olhão’s attempts to force through unwanted change without having the balls to face the public is seen as a shameful use of council powers and, not for the first time, the local mood is one of anger and frustration, especially from those who collectively have recently invested millions in the historic town, turning ruined buildings into sensitively reconstructed showpiece historic homes at zero cost to the council.


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