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Not even a week has gone by since, last Thursday, the two government partners on the Barcelona City Council, Barcelona in Common (BComú) and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), jointly presented the new land use plan for the city's central Eixample district, which in particular, imposed two types of limitations on the restaurant sector in the city's most densely populated district: on the one hand, affecting those streets in which traffic has been or will be pacified, and on the other, all the rest of the streets. However, this Tuesday, shortly before debating the land use plan in the Ecology, Urban Planning, Infrastructure and Mobility Committee, the PSC stood up and announced that it would vote against the plan, despite the fact that it participated actively in its presentation last Thursday.

With less than five months until the municipal elections, the differences between the two government partners are emerging more starkly, and, in fact, they had already appeared in the presentation of the land use plan, when the explanations given at the time by deputy mayors Janet Sanz (BComú) and Laia Bonet (PSC) included conflicting information, such as over the maximum number of restaurants, premises with food sampling, self-service stores, nightclubs and convenience stores that could be created under the new plan of uses, where Sanz stated that there would be a thousand, and Bonet spoke of more than two thousand.

Eleven streets or about forty?

It should also be remembered that Jaume Collboni's Socialist group had distanced itself from the land use plan when the initial draft was presented in March 2022. Last Thursday it seemed that the points of disagreement had been ironed out, but at the moment of truth, that was not the case, and the PSC sets itself apart from BComú in this matter. As Laia Bonet explained minutes before the start of the committee meeting, the detail that enabled the agreement on the land use plan referred to stricter restrictions "on eleven streets", including the Eixos Verds ("Green Axes") currently under construction. "We were able to reach an agreement through a double regulation - stricter on the streets with the risk of generating a [bar terrace] monoculture, and looser on the rest".

The fact is, according to the PSC, that this "agreement on eleven streets has not been transferred to the documentation of the final agreement", and it stated that the will of BComú is to extend the restrictions "to about forty streets", among which there would be streets such as Sepúlveda, Bailèn and Roger de Llúria. "We talked about streets, not areas of regulation", added Bonet, precisely because, as Janet Sanz had argued right afterwards, the basic disagreement lies in the fact that BComú wants the strictest restrictions to be extended to areas of the Sant Antoni neighbourhood superilla (superblock) and the Carrer Girona area, which includes streets such as Bailèn and Passeig de Sant Joan.

"Last minute calls"

In fact, according to Sanz, the presentation of the land use plan last week was made "with the terms very clear" and she stressed that the "Sant Antoni and Girona areas" were always included and criticised the "about turn" of the Socialists, who are now "proposing changes in the terms of the agreement". Sanz even went further and noted that, five months before the elections, there have been "last-minute phone calls" from "lobbies" that led to the change in Socialist positioning, and she urged them to explain this.

A little later, and already in committee, the debate was held in the same terms but with a notable pre-electoral ambience. In any case, the Eixample land use plan will reach the plenary session at the end of the month, but in this preliminary procedure it only had votes in favour from those of mayor Ada Colau's party, while the PSC, Junts, Cs, the PP, Valents and the single unaffiliated councillor voted against it and ERC reserved its vote, that is to say, it will pronounce itself in the plenary meeting on Friday 27th.