Barcelona City Council plans a facelift for Les Rambles

Barcelona’s famous central artery and main tourist street will undergo a major transformation due to the degradation experienced over the last number of years. Barcelona City Council has decided to make Les Rambles an appealing location and presented an investment plan based on six main points. It aims to increase security and to make the street more pleasant to walk on. The plan has a €10 million budget and will be gradually implemented between 2012 and 2018.

CNA / Sara Gómez

December 21, 2011 07:49 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- Barcelona’s world most famous street, Les Rambles (Las Ramblas in Spanish) needs a facelift. In the last number of years, Les Rambles has been losing its status as the city’s most popular thoroughfare and has been relegated almost exclusively for tourists. It comes as no surprise for shop owners and residents in the area. One of the city’s symbols has been undergoing a gradual decline, a situation that becomes evident once night falls. The City Council has drafted ‘PlaCor’ –Heart Plan– with the aim of recovering the appeal of Les Rambles and return it to its former status as a focuspoint for all Barcelona residents and foreign visitors, According to the Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, the initiative wants to transform Les Rambles from its current situation by “taking action” and dealing with “the real difficulties” facing the emblematic street. Trias, together with Old City Councillor, Mercè Homs, have presented a budget of €10 million for the investment, which will take place between 2012 and 2018. The plan aims to increase security, to make the street more pleasant for pedestrians, and make it the most popular street in the city once again, giving its splendour back.

The city is putting its credibility at stake with this initiative, stated the Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, as most of the praise for Barcelona depends on how Les Rambles looks. Therefore, he said, the City Council must take action and not allow the world famous street decline even further. Trias stressed that the reform will face different views and interests, which will not make the task easy. However, he highlighted that the project must be faced with “courage”.

Six points of action to build the new Rambles

The plan focuses on six different areas to work on throughout the reform process. Socially Les Rambles needs to become a peaceful, safe, pleasant and inclusive location. The main economic point aims to foster quality activities and have a balance between consumption and entertainment. The morphological aspects of the plan are focussed on the simplification and arrangement of the material elements scattered along Les Rambles. In mobility, pedestrians will be given priority, as well as public transportation and vehicles with the need to load and unload. The plan also aims to relaunch Les Rambles as a unique cultural space in Catalonia. Finally, there is a clear intention to implement an integral management model for the entire urban environment.

Giving life to Catalonia’s most famous street

Together with the six action lines, the remodelling project includes the creation of a monitoring entity to support the transformation process. ‘Rambla Viva’ (‘Rambla Alive’) is made up of institutions and associations with some kind of connection to the street. It is a new entity that is in charge of carrying out these tasks. The first meeting of ‘Rambla Viva’ will take place on January 12th and, apart from introducing the project’s main goals, the get together will focus on the debate surrounding street artists. Many  impersonate living statues in Les Rambles. The previous City Council already tried to regulate them through a selection process.

“Ugly” kiosks and prostitution in the spotlight

Kiosks selling food and souvenirs have replaced the old bird stands, which were designed by the previous City Council government. The current Mayor said “they are the ugliest things” he has ever seen. He added that “they do not dignify the street” and that “it should not be normal to spend years and years to figure out what to do with them.” He pointed out that before making any decisions it is necessary to contemplate the consequences their disappearance would have on the people that work there.

Another of the street’s most controversial realities is the prostitution that takes place at night in the lower end of Les Rambles. The Mayor of Barcelona has demonstrated a will to prosecute the mafias and punish clients of the prostitutes, and also help them with the aid of City Council’s social services. Evidence of this approach is the recent crackdown on prostitution that was carried out around Camp Nou –FC Barcelona’s football stadium–, he said.