The long-delayed Espai Barça project, which includes major redevelopment of the Camp Nou stadium, is set to commence in earnest after Spanish LaLiga football club Barcelona reached an agreement with the city council.

Espai Barça has been hit with multiple challenges since first being approved in March 2016. However, the Barcelona City Council Governing Board has now provisionally accepted a Modification to the General Metropolitan Plan (MPGM), thereby making Espai Barça possible.

The proposed MPGM will now go to the Plenary Session of the Municipal Council on April 27 to receive the final go-ahead, before definitive approval by the Barcelona Subcommission for Urban Planning, a body associated with the Catalan Government, or Generalitat.

One of the key changes to the transformation plan is that the Camp Nou and other Barcelona facilities will be opened up rather than forming an urban barrier. The premises will blend into the districts of La Maternitat and Sant Ramon and will be permeable, with new private spaces made available for public use without enclosures, joining with other public, road and green spaces in the environs of the Camp Nou and the current Miniestadi.

The future Espai Barça includes the redesign of Camp Nou. On the side that is now occupied by the Miniestadi, there will be a new Palau Blaugrana and adjoining sports hall for other sections of the club – basketball, handball, roller hockey and futsal – and other facilities relating to sport such as the ice rink and the FCB Escola youth academy, which will remain active on the new site.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu yesterday (Thursday) said work on the Camp Nou is expected to begin in the summer of 2019, while other projects could commence in the first quarter of next year with the goal of completion in 2022.

Financially, the amended plan will not involve any cost to the city of Barcelona given that FC Barcelona will assume all financial responsibility for the urban renewal of streets, new public spaces and new spaces open to the public on the site, work that will cost upwards of €125m (£108.1m/$154.3m).

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau said, according to Spanish newspaper Marca: “It’s a historic project for the city. To reach this agreement, until now the balance between the benefit for the club and the benefit to society has not been achieved, despite many hours of dialogue.

“The Camp Nou will now go from being a closed space, to a space open to the neighbourhood, friendly and where people can engage in lifestyle and city activities, with 32,000 square metres of green areas and underground parking. All this will be done without any expense for the city of Barcelona, ​​despite what the city earns. It’s a big gain for the city, at zero cost.”

Referring to Barcelona’s exit from the Uefa Champions League this week, Bartomeu added: “For sport these have been difficult days, but today we are here to present this agreement, which is definitive for Espai Barça, a project that will mark the future of the club, but which is also the capital for the Les Corts neighbourhood and the city of Barcelona. We are going to try to develop the best stadium in the world, one which will last 60 or 70 years.”

Work on the redevelopment was originally scheduled to start in June or July last year. The original start date was put forward in March 2016 as Barcelona selected a bid from Nikken Sekkei and Pascual i Ausió Arquitectes as the winner of the tender for the design of the redevelopment project.

Image: Pure-football