“It makes no sense”: New owners abandon ‘Vilamoura Lakes’ project

The new owners of Vilamoura have confirmed that they have no interest in pursuing the controversial Vilamoura Lakes project, which received an environmental ‘thumbs down’ in November.

So said the new CEO of Vilamoura World, the resort’s management company which was purchased by a group of national investors in May.

“Vilamoura Lakes was a project that involved hundreds of buildings near the sea, with a totally urban environment. We believe that it makes no sense,” João Brion Sanches told Expresso newspaper.

He explained that the project is not compatible with the “quality, sustainable and low-density” environment that the new owners want to create in Vilamoura.
However, the owners are discussing other ideas for the area.

“We have a general idea about what we want to do but we are still thinking about it. We only arrived around a month ago, so there’s a lot of things we are still fine-tuning, adjusting and evaluating internally,” he said.

The CEO did make one guarantee: “One thing we do know, it won’t be that project (Vilamoura Lakes).”

The grandiose ‘Vilamoura Lakes’ project was lambasted almost as soon as it became public, with a local citizens group dubbing it an “environmental attack” on the sustainability of the Algarve.

At the heart of their protests were concerns that the project would wipe out local vegetation and the local bird population, and destroy one of the Algarve’s last wetland areas in the process.

They also believed the project was only moving forward because it was given the status of a “project of national interest” (PIN) – which effectively allowed it to ‘bend the rules’ in order to advance.

The group also highlighted that the development would have been built in an area qualified as “sensitive” – the river basin of Quarteira, near the Roman ruins of Cerro da Vila – although it was guaranteed that the Cerro da Vila would not suffer any damage as an “archaeological reserve area” was to be established.

After being forced to revise the project so that they could diminish or eliminate the “negative effects” that it would have on the environment, the developers were handed a negative assessment of the project’s environmental impact study in November.

Vilamoura World was taken over by a group of national investors connected to British fund Arrow Global in May for an undisclosed sum (national tabloid Correio da Manhã put the value at around €100 million).

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com