Sale of municipal land in Barranco do Rodrigo causes controversy in Portimão

Chamber promises that the «great urban park» will be built with the money that the public auction yields

Terrain of Barranco do Rodrigo – Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação

The Portimão City Council states that the sale of the municipal land in Barranco do Rodrigo to private individuals, to make «houses», will enable the creation of a «large urban park» and the «infrastructures for the future University Campus».

The opposition, namely the CDU and the PSD, the only political forces that have already released public communiqués, are against it, for partly similar reasons.

The public auction of the 37,3 hectare land, with a base value close to €11 million (€10.986.000) was approved at the extraordinary session of the Municipal Assembly of Portimão held on Monday, the 7th of August, by majority vote, with the votes in favor of the PS, the abstention of the elected member of the PAN and one of the two elected members of the Left Block, and the votes against of the PSD, the CDU, the Enough, from the Portimão + Feliz movement and the other elected by BE.

According to a statement from the Portimão municipality, led by the socialist Isilda Gomes, in addition to that amount, the private bidder for the land at public auction will also be responsible for the «infrastructure», which «is around 7 million euros, to be borne in full by the real estate developer».

The Chamber recalls that, for this land, “a project was planned that included a sports complex, commercial area and residential area”.

Now, announces the Municipality, of the close to 40 hectares of Barranco do Rodrigo, 18 will be occupied by «a large urban park», to be built by the municipality, which will use, «for this purpose, the amount to be determined with the public auction ».

Still in the same place, «it will be land assigned to the University of Algarve (UAlg) for the creation of the future University Campus of Portimão, including dormitory for students'. This is a process that must still «be applied for EU funds by the Algarve institution of higher education».

With this change, concludes the Portimão City Council, «the commercial area authorized for the area for more than a decade is without effect».


Terrain of Barranco do Rodrigo – Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação


The CDU, whose municipal deputy voted against, points out, in a statement, that «it is inadmissible, and even immoral, that the City Council is going to definitively dispose of public property, when the constructive capacity of that land would involve a public offer of housing and, knowing that it had identified , in December 2022, 255 cases of families with housing needs in the municipality».

For the communists, the sale of the land «does not favor the citizens, nor the city».

The CDU claims to reject "what underlies this procedure for the disposal of city assets", stressing that "the organization of urban space is dictated by the economic system that seeks the maximum profit from investment operations".

Referring to the fact that a large part of the land in Barranco do Rodrigo is destined to build houses, the communists from Portimon argue that, in this municipality, we are witnessing a «process of residential segregation better known as gentrification», which «appears with these options and brings with it a process of social filtering, replacing residents with others, almost always belonging to social classes and favored socioeconomic groups».

The PSD of Portimão voted against the public auction of the land, also invoking the problem of the lack of housing in the municipality as one of its main arguments.

The Portimonian social democrats highlight, in a statement, “the contradiction of the sale of land for the construction of luxury housing, instead of prioritizing the provision of affordable housing for the middle class”.

They underline that “the lack of housing at controlled prices is a worrying reality that affects many Portimonenses, making them excluded from the real estate market and forcing them to look for housing in peripheral areas or neighboring municipalities”.

For this reason, the Social Democrats propose that the Portimão City Council promote «the necessary studies for the feasibility of the project in Barranco do Rodrigo and assume the responsibility of acting as a promoter, making housing lots available through auction or public auction, at prices accessible and prioritizing their acquisition by permanent residents» in the county.

For the PSD, this sale raises «serious concerns», since the land, «due to its characteristics, is probably the last jewel in the municipal crown and certainly one of the most coveted in the entire region, both for its size and location along the coastline".

It also considers that the public auction gives priority above all to «the interests of those who visit us or seek Portimão for a second home, to the detriment of improving the quality of life of residents of Portimão».

In addition, they argue, this goes against «the electoral promises of the Socialist Party, for the creation in that space of a green corridor (a fundamental lung for the city) and other public sports facilities».

Recalling that the Barranco do Rodrigo process, «was “dormant” for about 15 years and “wakes up” now», the main opposition party in Portimão argues that the project «lacks a prior environmental impact study», as well as the «adequate definition of building capacity» and «changes to land use and detailed plan».


Terrain of Barranco do Rodrigo – Photo: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação


«The haste in proceeding with this process, without previously guaranteeing these studies and definitions, reveals a lack of prudence on the part of the municipal executive. The absence of a more cautious and transparent approach entails significant costs for the municipality, since the uncertainty as to what can or cannot be built on the land of Barranco do Rodrigo will be a negative factor in the evaluation of any potential interest in this public auction».

The social democrats end up criticizing the «relatively low value proposed for this public auction by the municipal executive, taking into account the existence of reports that valued that asset at 20 million euros in 2012», and the municipal executive «now proposes its disposal for a value below 11 million euros».

In favor of the sale, in addition to the City Council itself, only the Socialist Youth. They criticize «the sense of negative vote of practically all opposition parties in the Municipal Assembly of August 7», moreover because, in the opinion of the young socialists, the opposition will not have presented «alternatives nor relevant contributions».

JS welcomes, on the contrary, «the possibility of having in Portimão two infrastructures that are a desire of young people and people of Portimão in general: a green park with the equivalent of 18 football fields, but also the construction of the University Campus of Portimão» .

The green park, underlines JS, «will allow the development of a space intended for everyone, comfortable and, above all, a true green lung in the city».

«The need for new university facilities in Portimão is undeniable, since the current ones do not serve the city or the students. A new University Campus will not only enhance Portimão as a city of knowledge, but will also promote the retention of young talents in our city, as well as the possibility of looking to a future beyond the tourism paradigm», defends the Portimon Socialist Youth.

Chamber president Isilda Gomes told the Sul Informação that the municipal services are already moving forward with the process for the public auction, which will go through the «normal procedures» of tender procedures.



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