As the silence from MillenniumBCP's property consultancty CBRE becomes deafening, the 'for sale' Salgados 'Praia Grande Eco-Resort' development is receiving wide publicity as the Algarve roars into life to oppose the destruction of this countryside and wildlife area of extraordinary importance.
Almargem, so often the lone voice in opposition to thoughtless and inappropriate tourist developments, came out with a statement this week and plans to have the green area between Galé and Armação de Pêra protected as a site of special interest, click HERE
On Thursday, the Portugal Resident newspaper ran a leader, 'Last chunk of prime ‘greenbelt’ Algarve coastline in €200 million marketing campaign,’ (Click HERE)
Silves mayor, Rosa Palma, remains fiercely opposed to this development of hotels, tourist apartments and 'yet another golf course' over 230 hectares, issued a press release on Thursday, 18th May to explain the council’s agreed viewpoint and explaining its inability to halt the MillenniumBCP-owned development.
CBRE, the consultancy employed by MillenniumBCP to find a buyer for the project, has failed so far to answer a list of press questions handled by its PR agency, the inference is that this silence either is policy, or that CBRE’s promotions director, Francisco Sottomayor, is at a loss for words as criticism of the ‘Praia Grande Eco-Resort’ hails down on all sides.
Silves council makes no bones about the fact that the last administration, under Isabel Soares, was all for the development when it was being promoted by Finalgarve, part of Galilei, part of the toxic sludge left in the wake of the BNP banking scandal in 2008 that cost Portugal’s taxpayers €2.7 billion.(Click HERE)
Silves council explains: “Praia Grande's tourism and real estate project, which includes 3, 4 and 5 star hotels and six tourist resorts, totaling 3,997 beds and 184,064 m2 of construction area, as well as an 18-hole golf course is detailed in the Praia Grande Detailed Plan which was approved by resolutions of Silves Council and the Silves Municipal Assembly dated November 27, 2007 and December 7, 2007, respectively.
“On April 20, 2011, the company Finalgarve - Sociedade de Promoção Imobiliária e Turística, SA, submitted a proposal for reparcelling Unit 1 of Praia Grande with a land area of 105 hectares, and provide for the construction of three hotels and two tourist villages, a total of 1,847 beds, a commercial lot and a golf course.
“Following this, Silves council decided on August 8, 2011 to begin execution of the Detailed Plan for Praia Grande, and therefore approved the land subdivision on November 7, 2012, and at deliberations on September 11, 2013 and July 9, 2014, and accepted the urbanisation projects for Unit 1.
“At the same time, on October 30, 2013, an Environmental Impact Statement was stamped as ‘favourable’ by the then Secretary of State for the Environment, (Paulo Lemos).
“As a result of these facts, Finalgarve required, on July 1, 2016, the issuance of the urban permit license. To date, the licence for the aforementioned list of works has not been issued, although its issuance would be quite legal, given the set of decisions previously taken by Silves council.
“It should be noted that there are currently legal actions challenging the legality of the Praia Grande Detail Plan, the execution terms of Unit 1 of the urban plan, and the environmental impact statement, whose uncertain outcome may influence the project, although, to date, there has been no judicial order suspending the work passed by the council's acts of approval." (Click HERE)
Silves Mayor, Rosa Palma, goes on to say that it is common knowledge that she and the current municipal executive are against the plan for the Praia Grande Eco-Resort, and that the council wants the area in question to become a sustainable, nature tourism zone with no construction. The type of tourist resort proposed is a ‘spent formula’, says Palma, and involves "the destruction of ecologically sensitive areas which need our protection as they are so rare in the Algarve."
Under Palma's administration, an application from Finalgarve to the council for a building licence in July 2016 has been given the old 'bottom drawer' treatment with the warning that non-permanent council members will be involved in a decison of this magnitude and many of them are aganst the development plan.
The statement from Silves is extraordinary and picks up on local sentiment that the development is old hat, that quality nature tourism is the current theme across the region and to turn this unique, bird-rich, sea-facing, countryside into yet another golf and hotel resort would be a tragedy.
How MillenniumBCP will respond to the furore remains to be seen but with its sales consultancy, CBRE, unwilling to answer press questions, and its PR agency already trying to alter what has been published on independent local media websites, it will be interesting to see how the accidental owner, MillenniumBCP reacts to the current barrage of adverse comment.