The Barcelona city council's refusal to grant permission for the construction of the Hermitage Museum on land near the port has finally pushed the cultural facility's developers to change tactics in the face of the obstacles that the city is putting in their way. With their patience exhausted, the Hermitage Barcelona museum project has decided to take the city council to court because it believes that the municipal refusal to grant a construction permit, following an initial go-ahead given by the Port of Barcelona, does not comply with the law.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Hermitage Barcelona announced that it would "defend the legitimacy" of its concession in the Port area, and therefore filed an administrative appeal "after exhausting the administrative route and trying to seek the maximum consensus for 10 years".
The museum states that it has been "forced" to file this contentious appeal against the Barcelona city council "in response to the judicial process initiated by the council itself, which a few weeks ago filed a similar action against the Port of Barcelona ", signed by the mayor herself, Ada Colau, a fact which the developers said was regretful.
In the appeal filed on Tuesday, Hermitage argues that the city council's position, seeking to assert that it has veto power, is tantamount to granting the mayor and the councillor responsible for planning the power to arbitrarily repeal the current urban plan. This situation creates judicial insecurity which affects not only the Hermitage Barcelona project, but also other urban developments in Barcelona, say the developers.
According to Hermitage Barcelona, the museum project has a current concession, granted on May 26th through a fully transparent and publicly advised process. The museum was the only project that presented a proposal for this space and scrupulously complied with the application process. Therefore, the project's pormoters understand that they have every right to be able to develop the project in this location, legally and legitimately granted to the museum and for which their project has been conceived. The Port, legitimate manager of the space, also backs this, which is why it granted the concession, although the city council does not accept its ability to do so. Once the concession expires, the building will be bequeathed to the city.
With respect to the claim filed by the city council against the Port, personally signed by mayor Ada Colau, it should be remembered that the site is owned by the Port of Barcelona and that the council would be violating the powers of the Port Authority in trying to impose its veto on the construction of the cultural centre.
During these ten years of permanent dialogue with the port authorities and the City Council, Hermitage Barcelona has modified and adapted the project to the requirements demanded of it in order to promote its full integration into the city.
According to Ujo Pallarés, president of the board of Museu Hermitage Barcelona, “it is disconcerting that, having followed and scrupulously complied with all the procedure and legality, the Port Authority and ourselves find ourselves in this situation. We regret that after these ten years of effort to make this cultural project a reality for Barcelona, the city council has brought us to this stage of judicial action”.
Hermitage Barcelona expresses its frustration because, after all the work carried out, the project is not yet a reality, with work paralyzed on the site near the new port entrance, beyond Barceloneta, until the situation of the concession is resolved. In addition, says the museum developer group, are the unwanted general economic consequences due to the positioning of "part of the members of the municipal government team".
Commitment to the city of Barcelona
Despite the difficulties, Hermitage expresses its willingness to continue its efforts to bring the project to fruition in Barcelona. Guy Vesey, director of Hermitage Foundation UK, maintains that "Hermitage Barcelona still wants to be located in the city and hopes to be able to develop its artistic project here when the project is welcomed by the current or future local administration". Vesey recalls that "we want to be in Barcelona with the hope of sharing with the city the extensive collection of Hermitage and encourage dialogue between the cultures of the two cities, St. Petersburg and Barcelona, both with great wealth and cultural sensibility".