Barcelona hit with new challenge to Espai Barça vision

Spanish LaLiga football club Barcelona is facing a fresh challenge to its Espai Barça redevelopment project after municipal group CUP-Capgirem filed an administrative appeal against the wide-ranging scheme, which includes major work on the Camp Nou stadium.

CUP-Capgirem filed its appeal to the High Court of Justice of Catalonia and is seeking to stop the project from moving forward stating it is not in the interest of local residents. The group has called for the area that will be left after the demolition of the basketball arena, Palau Blaugrana, be made 100% public.

Although CUP has admitted that the local area needs regeneration, it believes there is better means of doing so. “While the neighbourhoods of Sant Ramon and Maternitat have a population of 23,000 people, the average attendance at the stadium is 63,000,” the group said, according to Spanish news agency EFE.

“Thus, on match days the access in this area of Les Corts with cars, motorcycles and people is triple. We don’t agree with the requalification of sports ground on commercial land. The installation of an office building and a hotel are not part of our definition of economic dynamism of the public space of the neighbourhood.”

CUP councillor, Eulàlia Reguant, added, according to the Europa Press news agency: “Les Corts is a neighbourhood and it is not owned by Barça, any change that is made must be made in agreement with the neighbours.”

The long-delayed Espai Barça project was seemingly set to commence in earnest after Barcelona reached an agreement with the city council in April. Espai Barça has been hit with multiple challenges since first being approved in March 2016.

On Saturday, Barcelona presented the latest developments in the project to its members. Barcelona has pledged that Espai Barça will be integrated harmoniously within the city’s Les Corts neighbourhood. It will include the construction of the new Camp Nou, which will hold around 105,000 spectators, maintaining its status as Europe’s largest stadium. A new Palau Blaugrana arena for 12,500 spectators will be built on the site of the current Mini Estadi.

The proposal also includes moving the Mini Estadi to the Estadi Johan Cruyff, near Barcelona’s training centre in Sant Joan Despí. The development of club activities where the current Palau Blaugrana is located, including offices, the Camp Nou Megastore and dining options, will see the creation of open areas and public pathways that seek to better integrate club activities with the surrounding community as well as improve accessibility and parking.

Barcelona has said the project, which is expected to be completed by the 2023-24 season, will be an example of the best practices in energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. 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: FC Barcelona