Vila Vita group buys private beach in Algarve

news: Vila Vita group buys private beach in Algarve

By INÊS LOPES [email protected]

A company linked to the German group that owns Vila Vita Parc, near Porches, has invested €200,000 in the purchase of a three-hectare stretch of private beach in Armação de Pêra.

The land is in public maritime domain (Domínio Público Marítimo) but in 1913 was recognised as private property (see separate story below).

The deal to purchase the plot from the heirs of a well-known local Portuguese family took place on December 18.

The area in question is located in the eastern part of Praia dos Pescadores, which is frequented by thousands of beachgoers each year and is the site of fishermen’s huts, beach restaurant concessions and a football pitch.

But the company will be transferring the land to the State “for the benefit of the community”.

Speaking to the Algarve Resident this week, Manuel Cabral, group administrator at Vila Vita Parc, said the government announced its intention to expropriate the land two years ago by making a payment of €200,000 to the property owners.

But as the deal never went ahead, perhaps due to government financial constraints, the investors took on the role of the State and purchased the plot, for the same amount, as part of an agreement that will see the whole area being redeveloped and turned into a desirable location for free use by the public.

Manuel Cabral explained: “The Plano de Promenor Municipal includes plans to redevelop this area, but because the land was privately owned, work was never carried out.” The western part of Armação de Pêra seafront has been completely revamped though.

“We are willing to pay up to €300,000 to help in the complete redevelopment of the area, including the creation of a green space, a car park and the relocation of the football pitch,” explained Manuel Cabral, who does not know exactly how the investment will be made until a protocol is signed with the government to this effect.

“We have spoken to Silves Câmara and want to help to turn this area into a pleasant destination for all,” he said.

Included in the purchase deal, the group will be requesting it is granted one of the beach restaurant concessions. “This will represent another investment by the group to the tune of €500,000,” said Cabral.

Another item that will be included in the agreement with the government is the recognition of Praia dos Tremoços, also known as the Vila Vita beach, as a type 3 beach, which means it is equipped for bathers, has lifeguard supervision and is of limited use. The beach is currently classified as type 4 by the environmental authorities, which means it is not equipped and use is restricted.

“Although Vila Vita invested in the redevelopment of the beach, including the replenishment of sand, the hiring of lifeguards and installation of equipment for bathers, the beach is classified as type 4,” continued Cabral, adding that the beach was sealed off to the public for safety reasons two years ago.

“As it is frequented by many beachgoers each summer, we would like the authorities to change the beach status to type 3 and thus ensure all safety conditions for bathers are met.”

The group administrator concluded by saying that it was too soon to reveal further details until a meeting with the government is held and the signing of the agreement concluded. “Only then will we know what is at stake,” he said.

||The background

The plot of land located in the eastern part of Praia dos Pescadores is within public maritime domain, but private ownership was recognised in 1913 and later confirmed in a court order from the Tribunal da Relação de Lisbon.

However, beachgoers have always been indifferent to the legal wrangling involved and for years have been finding their way to the popular bathing spot.

The State had intended to expropriate the land and pay €200,000 to the owners in order to carry out necessary redevelopment works in the area as foreseen in the Coastline Master Plan (Plano de Ordenamento da Orla Costeira) for the Algarve, but this never happened.

Silves Câmara had invested more than €6 million to redevelop the seafront area of Armação de Pêra, but only up to the delimitation of the private land boundary.