There is a new episode in the story of the two large Son Bou hotels. Now, the Alaior Town Council is denying GOB, in writing, access to the file regarding the modernization of the buildings. GOB has filed an appeal because the implication is that both the right to access public information and the duty of transparency are being violated.
In 2017, the Melia Company presented a project to amalgamate the two buildings that are on the seafront and that constitute one of the main coastal impacts made on the landscape of Menorca in the sixties.
GOB studied the project and found that no reductions were to be made in the height of the buildings – that represents the ground floor and 11 further floors – and the volume of the lower building was increased. Realising that it is not logical to plan any new reinforcement of current buildings that now would have only a ground floor plus two floors, the company was requested to rethink its proposal but it did not send any positive response.
GOB decided, therefore, to consult the whole file from the beginning. This led to discovering surprising reports, such as the one that authorised the original licence, where it was decided that the two hotels improved the landscape and that the municipal architect of the time acted as a proxy for the owners of the land.
In addition, it found irregularities in the authorised licence.
Indeed, the size of the plot of land that was tied to the licence seems never to have been respected. The plots where the hotels are now standing are not the ones to which they were committed. All of the historical investigation that has been done at the Town Council keeps confirming that the construction has not been adjusted to the conditions – already sufficiently favourable – of the licence authorized in 1971.
Nor would the basements on which the hotels were built, be legal because the original licence contained an express prohibition about their construction. Furthermore, a part of the plots declared by the company is, in reality, a public green area.
All this makes it very complicated to be able to give a licence for modernizing a building that does not comply with the legal requirements demanded.
Given that the Town Council has not resolved the project for modernizing in any way, GOB, last March, asked to consult the modernization file to be able to know what new documentation may have arisen.
GOB had to keep insisting because there was no reply to their request. Finally, the Town Council replied denying access based on the argument that the document is not finalized. This contradicts current legislation, both European and local. The right to have access for information is regulated and it has taken many years to end the obscurity that often prevailed over certain public decisions.
GOB is sorry that old practices have returned in the middle of 2021. It does not know what the things are that the Council does not want known, but access for the documentation is not asking for a favour, it is exercising a right. An Appeal for Recovery has been lodged to reconsider this unprecedented act of lack of transparency.
In GOB’s opinion, Son Bou has a unique opportunity to amend the grave error of the seventies. Menorca cannot base its hopes for the future on strengthening impacts made, for example, by the two hotels that disfigure the beach and that need huge all-inclusive tourism to function. The Town Council ought to work to change this and not hide any documentation from the public.