Olhão residents mobilise over “horrific plan” tipped to destroy charm of historic town centre and repel investment

People-power is taking the Algarve by storm. Hot-on-the heels of the islanders’ victory in Ria Formosa, landlubbers in nearby Olhão have taken a leaf out of protestors’ books and are reacting with force against a new council plan for the town’s historic centre.

The “plano pormenor da zona histórica” is up for public discussion, and locals banding together under the slogan “I love Olhão”, cannot stress enough the importance of people making their voices heard (click here).

The next opportunity to do so will be Friday (November 11) at 6pm in the Sociedade Recreativa Progresso Olhanense (next to Best Travel on the Avenida da República).

The period for public consultation is open until November 28, and campaigners are adamant: “this is a defining moment”.

“The future of Olhão depends on our ideas”, says a Facebook post as an email drop is busily encouraging people to set out major grievances.

These centre on the ripping up of yet more square metres of ‘calçada’ cobblestones (to replace them with “hideous paving slabs”), the installation of “inappropriate modern lighting” (doing away with charming old bracket lights), the demolition of “architecturally noteworthy buildings opposite the town hall to be replaced by a modern 20-metre high viewing tower, in a prime residential area” and the building of a large, modern cultural centre “at the edge of town, instead of reinstating the much-loved Recreativa building” where Friday’s meeting promises to attract a packed crowd.

“This is a horrific plan”, says resident Pascal Odul on Facebook, adding that the 21-metre viewing tower is planned for “right in front” of his house.

But personal issues of privacy and aesthetics aside, Odul argues that the theatre-set charm of the historic centre is why people are ready to invest in Olhão. The council’s plans for modernisation will only serve to send potential property buyers running.

Thus Friday is the next step in what locals see as their mission to save Olhão.

Backed by local Left Bloc politicians, the evening promises to be another moment in the Algarve when locals rise up against issues they wholeheartedly oppose.

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