GRANADA – A pioneering initiative in Granada aims to make the city the third largest in Andalucia. The plan stems from frustration about the lack of space and complex urban problems.
To implement the plan, a platform has been created. This is led by Antonio Jesús Castillo, a teacher at a public high school in Armilla. The aim is to merge 44 surrounding villages into one municipality to solve problems such as lack of space and administrative inefficiency. The project would transform Granada, now with a population of 124,610, into a city with an area of more than 1,600 square kilometres and almost 600,000 inhabitants. This would make it pass Mucia in size.
The platform wants to tackle the urban chaos that has developed around the city. Castillo points to the fact that the city does not have room for important facilities such as an Olympic swimming pool, a new football field, or the Library of Andalucia. He also describes the paradox of current city government, where the city bears most of the burden for the surrounding urbanisation, while the population in the centre decreases and urban expansion around the city increases.
The current situation in Granada is considered untenable, with examples such as the lack of taxis at the airport due to restrictive municipal boundaries and the inefficiency of public transport. These problems are exacerbated by the fact that Granada has one of the smallest municipal areas in Spain, with much of the land protected under environmental legislation.
However, the idea of a merger of 44 municipalities is seen by many as a ‘mission impossible’. This is due to the political obstacles and conflicts of interest. The merger would lead to the disappearance of 44 mayors and more than 600 municipal councillors. This is causing resistance from local politicians. There are already examples of similar merger attempts in Spain that have failed. These show how difficult it is to merge several municipalities.
Analysis of advantages of being a big city
Nevertheless, Castillo and his supporters see numerous advantages in the merger. Advantages such as financial efficiency, better services and a stronger administrative structure. They have produced a comprehensive report that analyses the economic, social and environmental benefits of being one big city. The idea is slowly starting to gain traction among citizens, entrepreneurs and even some local administrators.