Barcelona bans new cannabis shops, phone accessory shops and nail salons from old town

Council suspends opening of commercial initiatives of any kind on La Rambla

Tourists walking on La Rambla
Tourists walking on La Rambla / Carola López
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

July 5, 2024 10:01 AM

July 5, 2024 05:56 PM

Barcelona City Council has agreed to suspend licenses to open new cannabis shops, mobile phone accessory stores and nail salons in the city's old town, the Ciutat Vella district. 

The measure, published in the Official Gazette of the Province of Barcelona and in the Municipal Gazette, also includes a one-year ban on new permits for any kind of commercial initiative on La Rambla, the city's most famous boulevard. 

The council says the aim is to avoid commercial "monoculture" aimed strictly at tourists. 

The bans will be valid for one year, with the possibility of a one-year extension, with the council planning to draw up in-depth regulations in the meantime. 

Barcelona council has also begun to draw up a new land use plan for the district and La Rambla. 

Protecting local trade 

According to the council, the measure aims to "maintain the economic stability of the local community, promote a balance in local trade," and, as a consequence, help to ensure the "day-to-day commercial offering to the citizens of Ciutat Vella" is guaranteed. 

The council emphasized the need to "protect" local trade, "diversify the economic activity of the district" and be able to draw up new regulations for commercial activity in the historic district that lies at the center of the Catalan capital. 

The first Ciutat Vella land use plan – and the first in Barcelona – was approved in 1992, coinciding with the city hosting the Summer Olympics. The current plan dates from 2018 and is valid for all of Ciutat Vella, except La Rambla, which has its own specific regulations. 

"We cannot fail to regulate commercial practices that clearly prioritize those people passing through over those who live here, and that protect businesses that end up monopolizing the district," Albert Batllé, Barcelona councilor for Ciutat Vella said during a press conference.


Opposition asks for more measures

Reacting to the news announced by the city council, many local politicians welcomed the measure, but many said that it should include other initiatives too.

These were some of the requests made by pro-independence Esquerra Republicana that sad that banning licenses "should be a first step," Elisenda Alemany, party spokesperson, said. She believes there should be "more capacity to investigate if the businesses mainly focused on tourists are complying with the law."


"We want to work for legislation that gives us social cohesion, which is what the neighbors are asking for," Damià Calvet, from the center-right wing TriasxBCN party, said.



Meanwhile, the conservative People's Party leader, Dani Sirera, considered that the measure "is not enough" and urged the cabinet to "take the necessary measures to shut down these shops."

"It is fundamental to put an end to the worsening of the neighborhood and the drug consumption on the streets," Sirera added.