This Thursday it was revealed that the Environmental Department of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, island government, has returned an unfavorable assessment of the latest proposed renovations project for the Annexo II shopping centre in Playa del Inglés, in the tourism heartlands of the south of Gran Canaria. They have argued that the project is simply incompatible with the conservation of the Dunes Special Natural Reserve, suggesting that the building be completely demolished and reconstructed further back, nearer to the Paseo Costa Canaria coastal walkway.

 


The project’s fate was disclosed at an event, on the opening day of the XI International Tourism Forum in Maspalomas, by Alejandro Marichal, Deputy Mayor and Councilor responsible for Urban Planning of the San Bartolomé de Tirajana Municipality. Marichal announced that the Municipality would subject the project to an environmental evaluation by the Municipal Environmental Body. He also argued, in contention to the findings, that since the building dates back to 1977, which predates the 1988 Coastal Law, as well as the 1987 protection regulations the govern the dunes reserve, no retroactively unfavorable judgments can be applied.

During a panel discussion entitled ‘Renovation of Commercial Centres in Tourist Destinations,’ Marichal explained that after receiving the renovation project, which was made public in July 2022 and includes environmental improvements like work to recover and reduce of the visual impact of the centre, using roof mounted awnings, the Municipality then sent reports to the Coastal authorities and the Cabildo.

The island’s authorities responded with a non-binding report a few months ago, which was made public recently. However, the Coastal authorities are yet to provide their assessment. The Municipality aims to proceed with the environmental evaluation once they have the Coastal report. Marichal emphasized that it would be unfair to retroactively issue an unfavorable report to entrepreneurs who constructed the shopping centre on their own land with proper permits.

Jean Susi, President of the Annexo II property owners’ community, highlighted the challenges the renovation project has faced in recent years and its significance in making the tourist destination more competitive.

In the context of commercial space redevelopment, the Urban Planning Councilor discussed the need for a Modernization and Competitiveness Improvement Plan. This plan would include urban incentives like increased building heights, the conversion or compatibility of uses, and the allocation of EU Next Generation funds for commercial centre renewal.

Proposed Renovation Plans for Annexo II Shopping Centre in Playa del Inglés

The comprehensive renovation project for the Annexo II shopping centre in Playa del Inglés, forms part of a broader initiative to revamp commercial centers across southern Gran Canaria. The project envisions a significant transformation, including a facelift for the commercial spaces, restaurants, and terraces within Annexo II. This facelift will involve the removal of signage and the installation of uniform facades with a U-shaped cornice bearing establishment names and integrated lighting. Additionally, a three-meter porcelain cladding in pastel and gray tones will be applied, maintaining a consistent look across all businesses.

On the rooftop, fabric structures in colors reminiscent of the nearby dunes will be introduced to minimize the building’s visual impact and provide shade within the interior corridors. From a public perspective, the project extends to the surrounding area, with plans to modernize terraces along the promenade, enhance parking facilities by expanding the rear sidewalk, and create a lush longitudinal park. Furthermore, the adjacent hillside will undergo a makeover, transforming it into a garden with a semi-ramp path.

The project will be divided into three sub-projects, covering facades, fabric structures, and all public elements, allowing for flexible implementation. While the cost has not been disclosed, both entrepreneurs and the Municipality are actively pursuing the necessary approvals to bring this ambitious revitalization project to life.

Tourism Topics Discussed

The Forum also addressed the relationships between climate change, hotel urban planning, and skin cancer. Experts discussed the need for more shaded areas to reduce skin cancer incidence in the face of rising temperatures. They advocated for positioning the Canary Islands as a dermatology-friendly region, thus enhancing the tourist destination’s appeal.

Forum presentations explored the potential for luxury tourism, emphasizing the shift towards authentic, memorable experiences and personalized service in the luxury travel sector.

Lastly, the issue of “turismofobia” or anti-tourism sentiment was discussed, focusing on the need for solidarity between tourists and residents in terms of taxes and balanced development to avoid gentrification.

This edition of the Forum has started by underlining the importance of the tourism industry for the Canary Islands’ economy and highlighted plans for improving public spaces and adopting reformist policies to adapt to the changing tourism landscape.  the event continues tomorrow

The Canaries continue to be a significant hub for tourism, generating a substantial portion of the region’s GDP and employment while contributing significantly to public finances. Plans are in place to invest in public spaces and enact new reformist legislation to align with evolving tourism models.