Economy They ask for greater public investment in rural areas...

They ask for greater public investment in rural areas of Catalonia due to the urban exodus generated by the coronavirus

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The growing migration from cities to rural areas and second homes as a result of the coronavirus crisis should prompt administrations to â € ˜mobilizeâ € ™ urban planning to respond in real time to the new needs generated by the urban exodus. This is the main conclusion reached by experts in the field of tourism, architecture and urban planning, after recently participating in a debate organized by the Girona Tourism Board (Girona Tourism Board).

 «For this phenomenon to take shape, it is necessary for the towns to have telecommunications infrastructures that allow teleworking, in addition to accessible roads, comfortable buildings and new services that make the place attractive», he explains. Isabel Granell, director of Observatory of Urban Rehabilitation and Renovation of the Girona region, a non-profit organization that promotes urban renewal and rehabilitation policies.

 «Likewise, the transfer of people to second homes, not just to spend a weekend or vacations, but to live a long season, as shown by the increase in registrations in municipalities where this type of housing abounds, causes the demand infrastructures and services in these localities change », he adds.

New needs such as the provision of public spaces to promote the coworking in the villages or to create nurseries that accommodate the children of the repopulating families, which require  «more dynamic and flexible urban planning that allows the regulation to be shaped in an agile way, either to allow a rural hotel with no customers is transformed into a motorhome parking lot or so that a municipality of second homes can build a hospital on an unconsolidated urban land due to the increase in population, and which in short are changes of use whose processing may currently take a year or more because the regulations are not designed to cover them, it is still too rigid and it does not adapt to changes in real time, ”explains Granell.

Positive changes

In parallel, and according to the architect and 2009 National Urban Planning Award, Sebastià JornetIn addition to adapting urban planning approaches to the pandemic, the positive changes that it has generated should be exploited and integrated.  «During the confinements, the levels of pollution, both air and noise, were dramatically reduced in cities. It was a forced but positive lesson from the Covid-19 that should be exploited with a clear commitment by the administrations to what I call the mobility triad: on foot, by bicycle and by public transport».

Another of the urban planning lessons that the coronavirus has put on the table revolves around the need for efficient policies of social rental housing,  «and under a tutelage of price control», which among other things  «serve to administrations to respond to times of emergency such as those experienced during the pandemic, in which families have not been able to pay their rent or mortgage and have faced eviction, ”adds Jornet.

On the other hand, the Taula Gironina de Turisme has presented the key challenges for the transformation of tourism in the province during 2021, which will be characterized by the  «complications» caused by the pandemic and the containment measures during the first semester, and by â € ˜the signs of recoveryâ € ™ in the tourist market for the second half of the year.

Implement a moratorium on taxes to the sector, improve the financing of tourist municipalities, encourage policies to regenerate the beaches in the face of the increase in storms, promote outdoor activities and in nature caused by Covid-19, increase frequencies of transport to adapt to the arrival of flights at the airport or make a turn towards greener and more sustainable tourism are some of the challenges set for the coming years by the private sector of the Girona tourism industry.

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