By: CECÍLIA PIRES
PORTIMÃO IS to lose one of its most infamous characteristics: the smell of sewage.
Manuel da Luz, President of Portimão Câmara, told The Resident that agreement was reached in September with Águas do Algarve to build a new treatment facility to solve the problem.
Although the smell is not the biggest concern for those who want to invest in the region, the Portimão Câmara President recognises that the issue has been frequently, and legitimately, raised by the residents for many years.
“After five long years of negotiations, we finally reached an agreement with Águas do Algarve, which has the responsibility of managing all the sewerage systems in the Algarve, and a new water treatment station is to be operational before the end of 2010”, said Manuel da Luz in an interview with The Resident. This facility is also expected to respond to the expected growth in the district.
However, the project does depend on a future revision of the Plano Director Municipal (PDM), a strategic document that limits construction and planning initiatives by districts throughout the country.
Manuel da Luz feels strongly that the local PDM is what really worries investors, be they big companies or private individuals.
“Investors are attracted to this region by the climate, the people and the feeling of safety”, he said, adding that the many constraints and mixed regulations about soil use is making many lose interest.
Although they don’t complain as much as the Portuguese, Manuel da Luz said: “Our experience is that expatriates don’t understand our legislation and its impact when they decide to invest.”
The revision of the PDM, which he expects will attract the attention of all residents, including expatriates, might help to partially solve the problem in the future.
“We must decide how and where we want the district to grow”, said Manuel da Luz, adding that this is the only logical option for quality future growth.
“After 10 years of experience with this planning system, and with the PROTAL limitations, which only allows a 10 to 20 per cent of urban growth for each PDM revision, we know that some changes must occur in the land legislation to improve the quality on offer in the region”, he said.
By quality, the Portimão President said he wants more quality in the tourism offer provided, with additional hotels of five or more stars, respect for the environmental regulations, more green areas and less waste dumping.
He would also like to see more golf resorts “because the existing are clearly insufficient for the demand” to complement the “sun and beach product”.
Manuel da Luz also believes the quality debate must go beyond the good intentions and private investors should look for alternatives to the sun and beach product.
He would like to see the development of a MICE product (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Events) with more equipment to complement the Arade and Arena pavilions.
Portimão also needs to be better equipped to attract the over 55’s market: “The PDM is not allowing new developments and projects to respond to this demand and that must be changed in a near future,” he said.
“We don’t just want more building and villa construction; what we need is a chance to attract quality projects”, said Manuel da Luz.
At the moment, some of the most important projects in the Algarve region are located in the Portimão district.
The list includes the car racing track, which is already under construction “despite all the difficulties”, and a regional aerodrome with capacity to respond to low-cost flights and private jets that are forced to go to Beja or Faro at the moment. The investment in these projects is to be a joint effort between public and private investors.
The reorganisation of the riverside area of the city is also listed among the most important projects for the city, with the traffic being diverted already in 2008 from the centre of the city to new connections projected under this new plan.
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