Saturday, October 12, 2013

Demolishing History In Pollensa

Pollensa town hall has been busying itself with drawing up a catalogue of properties and other sites which should be granted protected status on account of their historical, artistic or architectural interest. A nice job for someone you would think, wandering around the glorious old town, strolling along Puerto Pollensa's pinewalk, venturing into less central or more rural parts of the municipality, and doing this with the purpose of identifying sites that should qualify for protection. Nice job, but not a job without some controversy.

Firstly, there was the very centre of Pollensa itself. Opposition parties refused to approve the catalogue for this part of the town because they had not had sufficient time to consider its content. Now, there is renewed controversy over two particular buildings which have long been the subject of argument and concern. One is in Puerto Pollensa, the other just a bit away from the centre of Pollensa town.

The pinewalk in Puerto Pollensa has a status all of its own. It is a bejewelled part of this resort jewel in Mallorca's crown. It is a pine-tree-lined, narrow, stone-pathed, seaside promenade that is loved by resident and visitor alike. It is one that both resident and visitor wishes to see preserved in its oldy-worldy Mallorcan state. It has not been immune to some development, but there have been concerns that there may be more, thus removing some of this largely unspoilt charm.

There is a cottage on the pinewalk known as Can Franc (aka Can Llobera). Doubts as to its future first surfaced in 2008. They resurfaced in 2011. At the time, Pollensa town hall sought to calm fears that this cottage, some one hundred years old, was to be demolished and to be replaced by a development of apartments. Opposition parties had voiced these fears. The town hall criticised the opposition for having raised these fears, saying that no application had been made for any development.

The catalogue for buildings that would be given protected status does not include Can Franc. The town hall says that it contacted the Council of Mallorca in order that Council technicians could decide if there were reasons to award protected status. If the Council said yes, it would then assume responsibility. However, this is a responsibility which comes with a slight catch. If an authority, the Council or the town hall, establishes protected status, then there could be a demand for compensation. And what might this compensation be for? Refusal to develop the site. It is understood that there is a licence for Can Franc's demolition and subsequent development as apartments.

The other building, the one near to the centre of Pollensa, is the old carpet factory, Can Morató. It is also not included in the catalogue. It is, however, protected by the Council of Mallorca, but it may not be for very much longer. The factory, which is in an awful state and a potentially dangerous one too, is likely to be de-listed and declared a ruin. If so, it would come down.

Reasons for and against preserving Can Morató are different to those regarding Can Franc. Most obviously, it is not directly in a tourist area. Almost equally as obviously, it is a deplorable sight, which Can Franc isn't. However, it is of historic interest. It is a little short of one hundred years old and is representative of Pollensa's textiles history, one that today is best known for the textile innovations of Marti Vicenç. There is also the fact that the factory falls within the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Tramuntana mountains. One aspect of this award was that buildings should be preserved. There is a fear that, were Can Morató to be demolished, UNESCO might shift the boundary of this site, potentially excluding, therefore, part of Pollensa. Indeed, the possibility of demolition was denounced to UNESCO over a year ago. Nevertheless, Can Morató, as with Can Franc, looks destined to meet a demolished end.

Photo: Can Franc, supplied by the Alternativa per Pollença in 2011

* For Can Morató, see

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