Sunday, March 02, 2014

Landscaping Pollensa

I can recall once having written about Pollensa and the less-than-inviting view of the town as one drives past the town on the main road from the motorway to the Berenguer roundabout. The outskirts, if one can call them that, hint at nothing of the architectural riches to be found once one is inside the town. One is presented with a landscape of uninspiring residential accommodation - mainly flats with sandy coloured or whitish walls.

This external view isn't that different, though, to other towns. It depends on your entrance point to them, but both Alcúdia and Muro - just as examples - can appear similarly dull; indeed, the entrance to Muro from Can Picafort might be thought to be a positive deterrence, marked as it is by its row of industrial units and a petrol station. At least with Alcúdia, if you drive past the town going towards the horse roundabout, you can look across and see the enormity of Sant Jaume church rising out of what seems virtually nothing. The view is very much more convincing than were you to approach Alcúdia from Puerto Pollensa.

All towns are essentially externally unlovely. Inca, just to cite another example, appears to be a total dump from the outside. It isn't the most beautiful town in Mallorca by any stretch of the imagination, but it is far more attractive and interesting than its outskirts industrial image suggests. But should it just be accepted that there is an inevitability that the less glamorous or less beautiful entry points to towns should disguise the greater beauty which lies inside? In Pollensa this inevitability is being challenged.

The town hall has teamed up with students from the university to consider different projects to make parts of Pollensa and its port more attractive and to improve the general landscape, and one of these projects is that view as one drives past on the main road. What might emerge from this is anyone's guess, though a whole load of greenery that obscures the unremarkable residential accommodation might help. One other project is for a "landscape intervention" for the connection between Pollensa and the port, but, and notwithstanding the presence of supermarkets, the entrance to the largely unused industrial estate and the building materials store to either side of the road as one leaves Pollensa, is there anything fundamentally wrong with the current landscape? Some of this sounds like a case of finding something to do rather than something that needs doing.

Which isn't to say that more attractive vistas might not be the end result, but one worries that the result might be projects which demand a fair amount of money yet which bring little benefit. The connection between Pollensa and the port has already had a goodly amount of money spent on it; the walkway which, while no doubt useful, was a project of questionable benefit. How many people does one ever see actually walking along it? Perhaps there are many, just that I have never noticed them.

A further project that is to be looked at will bring back bad memories. It is the one which involves the coast road between Alcúdia and Puerto Pollensa. Some years ago it seemed as if the Costas Authority was determined to get rid of the road and to allow it to return to a natural state. There is one good reason why this road might be got rid of and that is the problems that can be caused when the sea is turbulent and starts throwing stones and rocks onto the road. Otherwise, it is hard to think of a good reason why a great deal of money would have to be spent on creating a new road connection. Indeed, where might an alternative go? Wherever it might go would be bound to require some expropriation and would probably raise environmental objections, given the presence of Albufereta and wetlands. When the Costas, for environmental reasons, first mooted the possibility of eliminating the coast road, the notion seemed insane as not only would an alternative bring up different environmental issues but the two hotels plus restaurant along the road would need new access roads. One had thought and hoped that the whole idea had been forgotten. Obviously it hasn't been.

There again, any coast road project would, the town hall has explained, depend on viability and the town hall's financial wherewithal. This suggests that an alternative would apply only to the coast road that is part of Pollensa. What about the rest? And as the road is a carretera, is this not a matter for a Council of Mallorca decision? It does, after all, have responsibility for main roads, not town halls.

Landscaping the entrance to Pollensa sounds a fair enough project for investigation, but as for some of the rest, they sound like projects for projects' sake with, in the case of the coast road, little likelihood of being implemented.

* Photo: the cock roundabout is a striking element of what otherwise is the unremarkable entrance to Pollensa.

No comments: