Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Another one bites the dust

Algorfa had an ambitous plan to build one of the largest shopping malls in the country. The project would have occupied 563,000 square metres of land and provided work for 2,000 people. That was back in 2007 just before the economic crisis hit hard.

The town hall has now given approval for the 1,000,000 euro deposit to be returned to Orishas Trust who will no longer be going ahead with the planned development.

To be honest, even if the crisis had not arrived, the idea of a huge shopping mall in a rural area with only a handful of small towns nearby sounded “ambitious” to say the least. The one at La Zenia made sense because of the density of housing nearby and the relatively easy access by the coast road and the motorway - access to Algorfa is mostly by country roads.

As it happens, we were discussing the topic of ambitious plans during our Spanish lesson yesterday. When money was awash, every town in this area wanted to be bigger and better than their neighbours. They planned and built monuments to their ambition which are now millstones around their necks.

In Bigastro we have the auditorium and multi storey car park that the socialists went ahead with. The car park has never opened and the auditorium is closed for much of the day because the town cannot afford the bills to heat and light it. I believe that the planned shopping mall at Algorfa would have suffered a similar fate. Like Ociopia in Orihuela it would have struggled to survive.

The sad thing is that, whilst towns and the region concentrated their efforts on grand gestures, they neglected the smaller, essential projects. In nearby Rojales, there is a primary school that is literally falling apart. The local children wore hard hats in protest but to no avail. It needs to be demolished and a new school built but there is no longer the money for that.

Instead of squandering money on airports, conference centres and auditoria, Valencia should have been providing cash for projects like that school but of course they would not have gained the same prestige for something small like a new school building.

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