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Collapsing construction sector in Catalonia and Barcelona

Assumpció Puig from the Association of Architects of Catalonia explained that the construction sector is in the phase of deceleration. Which is why the City Council, as well as the Generalitat, plan to devote resources to rehabilitation. It is known, that the surface area approved in 2019 reached 4.7 million square meters, non-residential construction reached 1.4 million square meters.



This picture show a farm field.

The construction sector is not in recession but has entered a phase of “deceleration” throughout Catalonia, especially in the city of Barcelona, Spain, and the metropolitan area. As explained by the Association of Architects of Catalonia (COAC), Assumpció Puig. This brake especially affects the construction of habitats and specifically the city of Barcelona.

The Puig managed to balance the 2019 exercise with clear criticism of the administrations: habitat restoration has not started yet continues in Europe despite the housing and climate emergency. According to the defence, the City Council and Generalitat should allocate resources for rehabilitation, especially considering that 70% of the land before 1980s does not meet the standards of isolation, sustainability, and energy efficiency.

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The surface area for projects

According to the data from the College of Architects, the surface area approved for any 2019 – projects for which the College is responsible – will be 4.7 million square meters, 4.8% more than the previous year. Despite the growth, the figures show a clear deceleration after years of two-digit growth.

However, if it is separated by the type the of surface, it is seen the deceleration of the habitat, since the past year had projects of new work or rehabilitation in all of Catalonia with a total of 3.2 million square meters, only 0.7% more than the previous year. In contrast, non-residential construction will reach 1.4 million square meters, with a growth of 13.7%, “Tertiary growth and not housing, when the country is in an emergency situation,” stressed the COAC’s statement.

The slowdown in the construction of housing is especially noticeable in Barcelona. Contrary to what has happened in the last five years, the surface area of the apartments in the Catalan capital has increased by 15.6%, while the number of projects has increased by 3.3% and the number of apartments by 12%, something that the COAC attributes to the fact that the apartments are getting smaller every year.

The event has demystified the forecast of processing of visas and building permits for Barcelona during 2019, of the projects that were presented at the end of 2018, to avoid the regulations that oblige to reserve 30% of the apartments for social housing. According to this, many promoters are going to present appeals against the regulations and are waiting for the resolution of the courts.

Moreover, Assumpció Puig, has highlighted that the growth of the tertiary sector was a phenomenon above the residential sector that occurred mainly in Barcelona, due to the promotion of office projects, but this is in the metropolitan area. The tertiary sector is the driving force behind the construction of the entire conurbation of Barcelona.

The conference highlighted that during 2019, projects to build 15,853 homes have been approved for all of Catalonia, while the Housing Agency has set that by 2020-2024, 26,300 homes will be built annually in the Principality to meet its needs.

The COAC has also criticized the slowness of the councils in granting building licenses with cases in which the delay was longer than 12 months. As a result, it is difficult to invest, said Joan Tous, head of the Tarragona region of the COAC, for two reasons: investors do not want to have long projects and because they decide to add other places at the cost of opportunity.

The average time to obtain a license in Catalonia is 5.6 months. The fastest municipalities are Figueres, Matadepera, Reus and Sant Pere de Ribes, while the slowest are Sabadell, Rubí, and Sitges. In the city of Barcelona the waiting time is 5.1 months, but with great differences by districts. The slowest ones are Ciutat Vella and l’Eixample, where it can take up to a year.


(Featured image by Federico Respini via Unsplash)

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First published in economia, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.

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J. Frank Sigerson is a business and financial journalist primarily covering crypto, cannabis, crowdfunding, technology, and marketing. He also writes about the movers and shakers in the stock market, especially in biotech, healthcare, mining, and blockchain. In the past, he has shared his thoughts on IT and design, social media, pop culture, food and wine, TV, film, and music. His works have been published in,, Seeking Alpha, Mogul, Small Cap Network, CNN,, among others.