Second public consultation period begins over Portimão hotel project

Last week marked the start of a new public consultation period for the project to build three five-star hotels in João d’Arens, hailed by local citizens as “one of the municipality’s last untouched areas”.

The public consultation period will end on June 19, after which the regional development commission (CCDR Algarve) will decide whether to give the project a thumbs up.

Readers may recall that after failing to receive approval last summer, developers presented a new environmental impact study for a revised plan in a bid to bypass the initial rejection (click here).

The first draft of the project’s environmental impact study was rejected after the evaluation committee responsible for analysing the study decided that the plans were “in no condition” to be approved.

The assessment was based mainly on the impact that the project would have on the “biodiversity and landscape” of the popular João d’Arens coastal strip between Praia do Vau and Praia dos Três Irmãos.

Developers were thus forced to abandon the project or revise their plan, making it less impactful on the area.

Citizens’ group ‘A Última Janela para o Mar’, which has been fighting the project from the start, says that little has changed in this new version of the project which it calls a “desperate attempt to bypass the law”.

“It is filled with administrative incoherencies and visual illusions. There hasn’t been any substantial change in the construction area. Concrete remains king, camouflaged by questionable green,” the group says in a statement sent to the Resident.

It also laments that Portimão’s municipal assembly voted against a motion signed by around 1,000 citizens which urged the local council to suspend the UP3 urbanisation plan – which would make it difficult for developers to move forward with their plans of building three five-star hotels in the area.

In their second draft of the project, the developers have reduced the total number of rooms from 411 to 353 while the maximum height of each hotel was lowered from 15 to 12 metres to ensure that they are not visible from the coast.

They have also cut the total construction area to 8,200sqm, which accounts for 1.8% of the area included in the UP3 urbanisation plan.

They also proposed to transfer the management of a 92,500sqm area of privately-owned land where the popular coastal trails are located, “the size of nine football stadiums”, to the local council.

The developers – Top Building, Astronow, Areia Feliz and Estoril Investe – said they plan to create new trails with signposting as the current ones are “disorganised and can be dangerous when it rains”.

They also guaranteed that the construction of the hotels won’t affect Linaria Algarviana, a species of plant native to the Algarve, belonging to the figwort family and included in the Natura 2020 network.

(Click here) for the link to the project’s public consultation web page.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com

Photos: INÊS LOPES/OPEN MEDIA GROUP