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More villas and more barriers: Gentrification and the enclosure of rural land on Majorca

Plus de villas et plus de clôtures : la gentrification et la fermeture de l’espace rural à Majorque
Más chalets y más barreras: gentrificación y cerramiento del campo en Mallorca
Macià Blázquez Salom
p. 25-36

Abstracts

Tourism and real estate speculation as significant modes of capital accumulation have compromised traditional rural land use. The landscapes of the Balearic Islands, of which Majorca is studied, have undergone urban sprawl and a trend toward enclosure as wealthy people have bought properties and sought to privatize their space. Enclosure has provoked social conflicts when landowners have restricted public access to traditional footpaths and recreational areas. Gentrification, a term once applied only to cities, can now be expanded to include several processes at work in the rural parts of the Balearics.

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Author's notes

The research that gave rise to this article was funded by the research project entitled “Geografías de la crisis: análisis de los territorios urbano-turísticos de las Islas Baleares, Costa del Sol y principales destinos turísticos del Caribe”, (CSO2012‑30840) financed by the Ministerio de Economía y Competitiviad. It has also been suportted by FEDER and the Direcció General d’Universitats, Recerca i Transferència del Coneixement, Conselleria d’Educació, Cultura i Universitats of the Balearic Islands Government.

Full text

Antoni Gorrías Duran generously lent me his knowledge on the issue of the restriction of access to trails on rural land on Majorca. Jerònia Ramon from the Servei de SIG i Teledetecció of the UIB collaborated in the preparation of maps. Antoni Riera Font from the Centre de Recerca Econòmica UIB-Sa Nostra allowed access to the 2007 hiking map. Professor Daniel W. Gade, University of Vermont, USA, kindly revised this writing, giving me valuable suggestions for improvement. Lastly, I would like to thank the members of the Grup d’Investigació sobre Sostenibilitat i Territori.

1This paper has three objectives: (1) to describe the pressure exerted by urban sprawl and gentrification of the Balearic Islands, principally on Majorca; (2) identify and evaluate the social conflict stemming from restriction of public access to rural land in the face of a growing demand by hikers and a shrinking supply of paths; and (3) compare the measures aimed at mitigating this conflict.

2The aim is showing how commons of the rural land are privatised to benefit elite’s interests. The study case of Majorca shows how real estate tourism enlarges its influencing by transforming rural land. A new regulatory framework promotes urban sprawl for tourist purposes, geographically extending tourism influence farther away from the coastal resorts. Social conflicts of right of way arise due to new holiday villas’ enclosures. They are shown as examples of social relations linked to the commons that are being privatised (DE ANGELIS, 2006).

1 - Pressure factor analysis

1.1 - Urban sprawl in the Balearic Islands as a result of a tourism model shift

3Tourism driven development of the Balearic Islands has given rise to urban sprawl that is gobbling up their once traditional landscapes. New construction has accelerated along with functional changes in the use made formerly of a large number of old buildings. This process has occurred as a result of financial and speculative demand in both tourism and residential development. Enlargement of the airport (BAUZA, 2009) and the road network have also fostered this urban sprawl. These forces have created a new residential model (ARTIGUES and RULLAN, 2007) characterised, among other features, by the proliferation of buildings for dwelling purposes on rural land. They now total in Majorca alone more 180,087 (18,621 of which with swimming pool), according to our analysis of the Topographic Map of the Balearic Islands (2006, 1:5,000 scale) (fig. 1). A 1:25,000 scale analysis yielded an estimated 74,000 buildings (RULLAN, 2007: 13) for 1999. That could legally rise to include 217,400 residences in the Balearic Islands as a whole, if the maximum number permissible under town planning regulations were implemented (MURRAY et al., 2010:15). Furthermore, 23 recently completed golf courses occupy roughly 1,189 hectares of countryside (MURRAY et al., 2010:17). Eleven more such projects are either in the process of obtaining permits or have begun construction (GOB, 2008).

Fig. 1 - Map of buildings and swimming pools on the Balearic Islands

Fig. 1 - Map of buildings and swimming pools on the Balearic Islands

The island on the left is Majorca; Menorca is on the upper right; Ibiza and Formentera on the lower right.

Source: Topographic Map of the Balearic Islands. Reprinted with permission from Sitibsa S.A. (Govern de les Illes Balears), Palma (Majorca).

  • 1 According to data from the Ministry of Infrastructure [online], the mean price of private housing f (...)

4The regulatory framework of the Balearic Islands and the persistence of high financial profits, even despite the economic crisis, have enlarged real estate pressure from urban to rural land1. O. RULLAN (2011:294) pointed out the unique nature of the “containment of urban expansion. A new model […] ushered in by the DOTs [Spatial Planning Guidelines] of the Balearic Islands of 1999 […] in contrast to the model of erecting “protective walls” around areas to be sheltered so that they do not end up classed as developable land” (2011:294). Urban growth containment had paradoxically contributed to the extraction of rents from urban sprawl into the Balearic countryside. D. HARVEY (2012:78) has described in general this process of rent extraction from commons that other have produced, that can be assimilated to this commodification of urban-tourists’ financial assets.

1.2 - The financial and real estate bubble

5The driving force behind this “city as a growth machine” (MOLOTCH, 1976) is none other than a local fix speeding up the cycles of capital circulation and accumulation characteristic of capitalist financialisation (BRENNER and THEODORE, 2002), understood as the financial leverage that works to override and dominate over the productive economy. The changing urban and regional regulatory framework aims to foster the secondary circuits of capital accumulation, i.e. in infrastructure and urbanisation (HARVEY, 1999: 235‑238). The “Spanish model”, characterised by an urban and tourism “developmentalism” associated with the euro area, exacerbates that process (LOPEZ and RODRIGUEZ, 2011: 3). On Majorca, the coastline and the scenic beauty of its mountain ranges determined the highest real estate prices (ARTIGUES, 2006: 138). The capital movements in which this finds expression show a hunt for profitability in which profits determine the production of space (SMITH, 1979: 540) through speculation, with residential housing as the traded commodity. The Balearic Islands have a unique ability to attract capital from a stimulated global market –in addition to the attraction posed by profits– with commodities associated with high-status lifestyles seen as a mark of distinction (PHILLIPS, 1993: 126). Non-farm return to the countryside is linked to a quest for a rural Arcadia with counter-cultural overtones (PHILLIPS, 2004: 15). These losses of rural activities are likely to increase social segregation (MACCARTHY, 2007) as a function of rural gentrification.

1.3 - Commodification of space and nature

6The world’s elite has chosen the Balearic Islands as a major area in which to manifest its wealth and power. These islands now epitomise the geometry of social polarisation that has been occurring on a global scale (ROFE, 2003: 2.517). The result is that agrarian life has been incorporated into tourism and real estate-based spaces of production. N. SMITH (2007) postulated that the commodification of space and nature, in our case Majorca’s countryside, intensifies unequal geographic development. That favours the rich and runs contrary to the interests of all others. By that reasoning, the true problem is not poverty, but rather that without it, wealth would be impossible.

7From this perspective, the current crisis should be understood as “the occasion which capital seizes to restructure and rationalize itself in order to restore its capacity to exploit labor and accumulate” (O’CONNOR, 1988: 18). The systemic crisis that characterises today’s world has been seized on as an opportunity to introduce environmental conservation as yet another item to be commodified. This perspective assumes that ecological conflicts will be solved through market mechanism; without getting rid of the contradictions of accumulation, “capitalism is turning the environmental problems it creates into opportunities for further commodification and market expansion” (IGOE, NEVES and BROCKINGTON, 2010: 489). This farce needs to build a cultural justification, which we believe is sustainable development. The transnational capitalist class makes up a sustainable development historical bloc (SKALAIR, 2001), with the invaluable help of intellectuals in order to manufacture a consensus to maintain hegemony in the hands of the ruling elite. This elite latter manages the State as a regulatory instrument to define the conditions of production, including access of capital to labour (in relation to their working conditions), infrastructure (particularly urban space) or natural resources.

8The hegemony of the global elite as a historical bloc is rooted in conservation of the countryside and of nature. By introducing environmental conservation as another item to be commodified, the capitalist elite figuratively hides behind the fence of privatisation and elitist enjoyment of the land in alliance with land-owning NGOs, which place the conservation of nature ahead of social justice (IGOE, NEVES and BROCKINGTON, 2010). Urban sprawl in the Balearic Islands is largely a function of a shift of the neoliberal residential perspective away from the city towards privatalised space in the countryside (BELLET, 2007). The elite find public space risky because they can not control it. These wealthy individuals who have acquired landed property in the Balearics provide directly relevant examples of the effects of rural land enclosure. Among them are Claudia Schiffer, German top model, who had a mansion built in the wilds of Cap Andritxol (Andratx), closing off the path to a tower that has been declared a Site of Cultural Interest; Michael Cretu, Romanian musician, with an illegal mansion in Santa Agnès de Corona (Sant Antoni de Portmany) that prevents access to a path leading to the sea; Klaus Graf, a German industrialist, throughout the village of Biniagual; Peter Eisenmann’s, also German industrialist, closure of roughly ten paths in Es Fangar (Manacor); Alberto Cortina, whose fortune is related to the Spanish construction sector, erected protective barriers around Moncaire (Sóller); the Fierro March family with the estates of Son Oliver (Santa Maria), Cala Sequer (Manacor) and Cala Mitjana (Felanitx), as well as other members of the March family. Descendants of Joan March Ordinas, a Spanish financer, banker and businessman closely associated with the dictator Francisco Franco, own the estates of s’Estorell, s’Avall, Albarca and Ternelles. Stephan Schmidheiny bought the rural estate of S’Alqueria in Andratx; this case illustrates well social segregation of global elites on Majorca, with the alibi of sustainable development. He created the first Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD) with 48 business leaders to represent the voice of business at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, and represents those who “have used the discourses of national competitiveness and sustainable development to further the interest of global capital” (SKALAIR, 2000: 67).

1.4 - Rural privatopia and spatial gentrification

9Urban sprawl in the Balearics involves artificial physical changes in land use and urban appropriation of rural land for private use. As J. M. NAREDO (2004) phrased it, urban sprawl is the mark left by humans in their pursuit of the “unhealthy endeavour” of growth. The grand irony is that productive use of the Balearics countryside lowers its profitability. On Majorca, that sprawl has turned the old collectivist “open field system,” which permitted public recreational use, into an individualist and residential “bocage” (RULLAN, 2005: 51, 54 and 56). Financial commodification of the landscape as a space for tourism or real estate development has turned it into a haven of profitability and social segregation. The Balearic countryside has become less and less a place of social reproduction for harvesting, hunting, livestock raising, or outdoor recreation. In that way, urban functions have spread over the islands where people in isolated villas located on rural land impoverish the land use and segregate themselves from social contact with others who are not of their class (RUEDA, 1997: 5).

10Privatisation of the countryside involving enclosure maximises its profitability. It is rooted in the idea that collective management of the land is unsustainable. Neoliberalism defends such privatisation as the way to maximise social profitability of land through the market mechanism, but also as the best instrument to ensure the conservation of nature (CASTREE, 2008: 147). Constitutional liberal tradition defends private property above common property, arguing that “no legal provision –let alone any constitutional provision– offers protection from the neoliberal State when it transfers common goods to the private sector” (MATTEI, 2012: 9). Behind that reasoning is the “tragedy of the commons” argument (HARDIN, 1968), according to which public management is inefficient and lack of personal responsibility leads to deterioration. Liberalism posits that privatisation, commodification and maximisation of profits are preferable to optimisation of shared resources. As a consequence, restriction of access or implementation of tolls have gained ground. XVI century enclosures of the common land is a historical referent of this same process, that is linked to other even more important rights losses, for instance of the women (FEDERICI, 2004). This same mentality has also promoted the defence of intellectual property and the privatisation of health care and education, (OBSERVATORIO METROPOLITANO, 2011: 56). In the Balearics the process is also manifested by the installation of a privileged and gentrified countryside.

11Those who sought to legimitise what can be called “privatopia”, meaning gated community where physical and social appearances are regulated, have sometimes done so through deception. One way this has been accomplished has been to create large game reserves (photo 1) in a space with no hunting tradition, but also with no significant use of it for that particular purpose. Another privatization ploy has been to construct golf courses and equestrian trails, which have led to the abandonment of agricultural use and a reduction in effective biocapacity. Correspondingly, the spatial socio‑economic metabolism has worsened and food sovereignty has deteriorated (MURRAY et al., 2005).

Photo 1

Photo 1

A protest hike on October 12, 2009 asserted the public right to use the Camí de Ternelles path to the Castell del Rei (Pollença, Majorca).
Hikers jumped over an illegal barrier (Bosch and Garcia, 2009: 17) with the permission of the environmental branch of the public administration but with opposition from the property owner. The March family, claiming the private nature of the estate adjacent to the path, argued that the danger posed by hunters justified their decision to construct the barrier.

Source: Macià Blázquez Salom.

1.5 - Regulation and gentrifying land protection

12Spatial, urban planning and tourism policy in the Balearic Islands has achieved a degree of renown for its attempts to contain urban growth (RULLAN, 2011). Broad social support for these containment policies has included members of the proprietor and business classes mainly interested in the coast, mountains, forests, historic city centres, picturesque towns, but also the rural countryside. In contrast, where the less advantaged populated is concentrated, various types of regulation and land protection have created zones in which the environment is sacrificed (VALDIVIELSO, 2010: 367‑368). These include prosaic peri-urban developments (MUÑOZ, 2008) that lack a sense of place (NOGUE, 2010). Rural land in unspoiled and pastoral areas, which had previously eluded “Balearisation”, became part of the drive to increase tourism during the tourism and real estate boom (RULLAN, 2007). Policies put in place during the economic crisis commoditized this new tourism product through its urban planning unprotection. This tourist-driven change in land use has resulted in the gentrification of such spaces. Wealthy users are favoured in gaining access to property there, using the land and its natural resources. In so doing they cut themselves off from, or at least marginalise, the local population (SMITH, 2002: 440).

13The concept of gentrification was originally applied to American cities where certain neighbourhoods with specific historical and architectural features had fallen into social and architectural decline. That trend then reversed with the infusion of capital and municipal encouragement (BRENNER and THEODORE, 2002). In this ideology of neoliberal urbanism, a rent gap arises in which residents who previously made use of the city were displaced as property values increased. Property is then bought on speculation, a transformation which is not so much revitalisation as “devitalisation” (CLARK, 1987: 86). Tourism has played an important role in the process of urban gentrification, for example in New York under the I Love NY campaign, in post Olympics Barcelona or in the historic centre of Palma (MORELL, 2009; FRANQUESA, 2010). Among the few specific studies on tourism-based gentrification. mention can be made of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (GARCIA HERRERA et al., 2007), New Orleans (GOTHAM, 2005) and Central America and the Caribbean (BLAZQUEZ, CAÑADA and MURRAY, 2011). Studies on tourist-generated gentrification have focused almost exclusively on cities, although they have occasionally looked further afield. E. CLARK et al., (2007) have undertaken the study of the spread of urban gentrification to other kinds of spaces, particularly rural ones. Rural land is not traditionally used for residential purposes, and thus its elitist adaptation for this use does not strictly coincide with the original definition of gentrification as the displacement of working class inhabitants and low rents by a recently arrived middle class (GLASS, 1964: xviii). Therefore I have broadened the spatial concept of gentrification to include new residential and tourism-related uses of rural land, even when these are not purely construction-based or financial/speculative in nature, with the support of pro-elite regulatory frameworks. This proposed expansion of the meaning of the term coincides with other recently accepted suggestions that broaden the concept to include capital reinvestment, resettlement of the high-income classes and landscape transformation (DAVIDSON, LEE, 2005: 1169‑1170).

1.6 - Changes with the crisis in the land use regulatory planning

14The neoliberal political answer to the current crisis has been changing the “moratorium” tradition or urban and tourism growth constrains (BAUZA, 2007). Both social democratic (during 2007-2011) and conservative (from 2011 onwards) governments have changed the rules towards the deregulation of the urban growth, lifting regional planning restrictions which prevented urban growth. Neoliberal capitalism implies deregulation and laissez-faire to the capital interests, with a regulatory reduction of duties and responsibilities of all types (dealing with labor conditions, taxation, environment respect, etc.) in favor of free enterprise, on the grounds of the presumed need to create a milieu that will foster investment, competition, innovation and growth. The role of the State is thus adapted to the neoliberal schemes that establish its roll-back (PECK and TICKELL, 2002), roll out regulatory measures through this new legislation that supports privatization and marketization (SANDBERG and WEKERLE, 2010) or even its roll-with-it strategy as a result of the elite reaction to widespread contestation to neoliberal regulation (KEIL, 2009).

15Dealing with the growth arising from urban sprawl and the deregulation that has allowed it has meant adapting the planning process to promote financial capitalism. House constructions that have resulted in urban sprawl have been legalized, even though they were constructed in natural area designations. This last deep change in the rural planning, the result of Law 7/2012, was claimed by the need of “measures for a sustainable urban planning”. In this neoliberal regulatory shift, this Law is a good example of the rhetoric to trick to the citizenry.

16The regional government of Andalusia has enacted similar legislation (Decree 3/2012), which has resulted, for example, in the legalisation of 11,025 previously illegal residences in Axarquía, Malaga, on the Costa del Sol (EL PAIS, 5/3/2011). The Ministry of Public Works in Madrid is currently considering an extension of this amnesty of illegal houses in the countryside to all of Spain (MENDEZ, 30/5/2012).

17Although the international elite is mainly responsible for gentrification of rural territory in the Balearic Islands, a portion of the local non-elite population also has taken advantage of its position as property owners. Thus, the construction of residences or similar buildings on rural land is mainly driven by local middle classes, whether for use within the family or for rental or sale. The Balearic middle class also enjoys privileges of access, first and foremost to hiking trails, which they usually guard jealously in order to avoid overcrowding. Consequently, the interests of the elite and of middle classes land owners coincide in terms of their desire to contain urban growth, but they are permissive with respect to sprawl, which entails rural gentrification.

18Further to this urban planning amnesty of illegal rural dwellings, policies put in place during the economic crisis have paralleled legalization in the Balearic Islands relating to the administration of tourism. It began with an urgent decree law to boost investment (Decree Law 1/2009) that opened an extraordinary procedure of regularization of tourist places, only for the following eight months, this is theoretically finishing the 2nd of October 2009. Eventually, the new Tourism Law (Law 8/2012) still extends this extraordinary period for one year from its approval; this is until the 21st of July 2013. Information given at the regional Parliament by the Balearic Islands Ministry of Tourism show some results of this regularization process: 108 beds were legalized in 2011 and 1,907 more in 2012, with earnings of more than 10 million Euros from their fees to the public administration (JOURNAL OF THE PLENARY SESSION OF THE BALEARIC PARLIAMENT, 11/12/2012). Additionally, the new Tourism Law (Law 8/2012) allows changing the use of tourist accommodation business, which was until now strictly forbidden, in order to make possible their fractionated sale as investment stocks for capital fixation, through the secondary circuits of capital accumulation. Its purpose is attracting global capital, which is stressed by the fact that a special issue of the Official Gazette published with the Law is available online in English. Dealing with the urban sprawl process, this last law allows the legalization of holiday villas that began in 2009 with a government decree law (Decree Law 1/2009), allowing the use of structures and auxiliary buildings, including those that have or have had a use other than residential, for any kind of use including accommodation, for the operation of rural tourism establishments.

2 - The enclosure of rural land and social conflict

19Enclosure of rural land is an expression of the social conflict created by the system of capital accumulation via the real estate market, which also results in urban sprawl (FERNANDEZ DURAN, 2006: 40‑51). This socio‑environmental deterioration affects its habitability and that has instigated a call for a democratic interpretation of land as a common resource, even if it is legally private property (VALDIVIELSO, 2004; 309). Popular movements in defence of the land against the excesses of urban planning are essentially a citizen response and takes on political expression. Examples have often been seen in the Balearic Islands (RAYO, 2004). Figure 2 depicts restrictions on access to rural trails on Majorca, based on complaints that call for a defence of common property (the most controversial are labelled with their locations).

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

Map of barriers that close off hiking trails on Majorca, as of May 2011, with emphasis placed on some of the most controversial estates.

Source: Macià Blázquez, based on information compiled by Antoni Gorrías Duran. He has acted as a court-appointed expert in lawsuits dealing with access to trails on Majorca (Es Fangar, Ternelles, Son Balaguer, etc.). His method aims to provide information on the closure of public trails, displayed on the historical rural property land register map of 1956, the topographic military map of 1931 and the map commissioned by Cardenal Despuig, drawn up in 1784.

  • 2 The athletic race “Ultra Mallorca Serra de Tramuntana” in 2011, with 250 participants covering 106 (...)
  • 3 According to 30 municipal catalogues compiled by the Council of Mallorca since 1997, give the figur (...)
  • 4 The website http://disurbia.blogalia.com, on which urban planning breaches are reported, details so (...)

20With the placement of over 500 barriers blocking paths traditionally open to the public, complaints over restricted access to footpaths have grown (FRAU, 14/2/2011). Conflict has even affected sports activities such as, for example, races held in the mountains2. Blocked access has affected more than than one-fourth of the trails3. Closing off access to trails coincides, upon occasion, with the construction of new buildings that are presumably illegal on rural properties, (photo 2)4.

Photo 2

Photo 2

Privatization of the lookout point at the Tower of Sa Pedrissa in Cala Deià (Majorca) due to the construction of a luxury villa. On 23rd August 2009, a protest hike took place calling for public use of the route.

Source: Macià Blázquez Salom.

  • 5 That same year, the A Desalambrar (“Cut the Chains”) platform appeared in Cordoba (<online), formin (...)
  • 6 Among other initiatives aimed at providing information and at protest, we would like to single out (...)

21One example of how conflict over public access is expressed is the appearance of social platforms and protest movements calling for unrestricted public access to nature and to rural areas. Particular mention should be made of the Pro Camins Públics i Oberts platform, which has been particularly active in Manacor since 20015, initially due to the restriction of access to the trail of Es Fangar. Since 2005 the Ternelles trail leading to the Castell del Rei has generated organized opposition in Pollença6.

2.1 - Demand and the public right to hike

22Social demand for access to the countryside increases alongside the worsening of exploitative labour conditions, environmental deterioration of peri-urban developments and the rising expense of other leisure activities due to the economic crisis. Average wages in the Balearic Islands are below the national average and the region is among those with the highest inequality in terms of wage distribution (MURRAY, 2010).

23In this context, a trend toward a growing working class contingent pursuing an interest in hiking, picknicking and camping has emerged. Moreover, tourists from Central Europe have added to this local demand by bringing with them more demanding expectations as to unrestricted access to the countryside (BLAZQUEZ, 1999). Between 1993 and 1996, real annual recreational demand on Majorca’s natural areas already involved 6,293,276 participants, 70% of whose activities were concentrated in the summer months during the peak tourism season (BLAZQUEZ, 2002: 190). These activities were related, among other things, to the definition of a dense network of hiking routes (fig. 3).

Fig. 3

Fig. 3

Hiking trail map drawn up using guides published in 1995.

Source: Blázquez and Roig, 1999.

24Analysis of the economic value of the recreational use of Majorca’s wooded area (BUJOSA and RIERA, 2009) has resulted in more recent map (fig. 4) showing the network of hiking trails, using a similar methodology.

Fig. 4

Fig. 4

Hiking trail map drawn up using guides published in 2007.

Source: Centre de Recerca Econòmica. Caixa de Balears, “Sa Nostra” and the University of the Balearic Islands.

25The twelve years that passed between the two studies brought the closure of trails. Disappearance of the Castell del Rei trail (Pollença) is now the subject of a lawsuit over the restriction of access to the trail imposed by the adjacent piece of land on the Ternelles estate (BOSCH and GARCIA, 2009). Increase in the demand for recreation, coupled with an increase in the resident and tourist populations has placed pressure on this reduction in usable trails.

3 - Public trails as a palliative measure

26Land is understood to be a consumer product, “flexibilised” inside the spatial materialisation of the regulatory framework of global capitalism. The mode of regulation is that which guides the system of accumulation via “a set of norms, institutions, forms of organisation, social networks and patterns of conduct” (JESSOP, 1992: 48). The example outlined of Law 7/2012 legalises rural residences, tipping the scales in favour of the privatisation and gentrification of the countryside; as we have seen, with more villas and more barriers.

27One institutional response of the regulatory framework to conflicts over access to rural land –without calling into question urban sprawl or gentrification– is to define the use and ownership of trails as public, in order to reconcile the limited right to movement with the right to enclose estates that are private property. According to X. CAMPILLO (2011: 20) the correct criterion to apply in defining the use of a trail as public should be the social and economic needs of the collectivity. In any case, the burden of proof of both the necessity of access and the ownership of trails falls on the public administration. It shows that the regulatory framework benefits the right to enclose rural properties. That is to say, the policy requiring demonstration of public ownership of rural trails implies an acceptance of the enclosure of private estates. Examples of palliative policies to address conflicts over rights of passage can be seen in the following cases in which public ownership of rural trails was argued:

  • On Majorca, programmes of cataloguing and rehabilitation of trails have been carried out since 1987 (COLOMAR, 1993; MASSOT, ORDINAS and REYNÉS, 1998).

    • 7 The “Pla especial d’ordenació i protecció de la Ruta de Pedra en Sec”, initially approved at the (...)

    The special plans for two routes recommended by the public administration, which hold the international designation of GR footpaths –Ruta de la Pedra en Sec (GR 221) and Ruta de Artà a Lluc (GR 222)– await definitive approval7.

  • The precariousness of this situation forces trail users to be guided with the warning that “Some of the accesses described pass through private properties, access to which is always dependent on the decision of the owners…” (RAYO et al., 2008: 3).

    • 8 As per the specifications of the agreement between the mayor of Puigpunyent (Mallorca) and the re (...)

    The local government of Puigpunyent agreed to some conditions of use of a rural trail with the owner of the San Balaguer plot of land, giving rights of passage exclusively to residents of neighbouring towns, limited to a single trip per week8.

  • The Council of Menorca enacted a “declaration of public interest and of the need for occupation of the private property” of Camí de Cavalls, a route that stretches around the island, under Article 5(2) of Law 13/2000 of 21st December.

  • 9 Ruling 95/2011 of 20th October 2011 by Inca small claims court no. 2, by Magistrate Judge Vicente (...)

28Administrative legal counsel has recommended including rural municipal trails in municipal inventories of public goods, pursuant to Law 7/1985 of 2nd April, which regulates the Foundations of Local Regulations. Even so, experience shows that public regulation of common resources is weak. Revisiting the above-mentioned case of Ternelles, the March family, the current owners of said land, won their lawsuit against the Town Hall of Pollença, which had argued the public ownership of the path leading to the Castell del Rei9. It is the only access to the sea on the 1,624 ha estate, which includes an unspoiled cove, the ruins of a fort owned by the Spanish crown until 1811, and a hermitage.

Conclusions

29Urban sprawl, related to real estate tourism, is changing the future of rural Mallorca. Financing global capital finds one of its multiple expressions in urban growth, as a secondary circuit of capital accumulation. Its connection to the tourism and real estate industries has influenced the development of the Balearic Islands, distinguished in recent times by urban sprawl. One of its many consequences has been the enclosure of urban land, with a restriction on its use by the public –among other users, by hikers– as a manifestation of estate-driven gentrification. Uses of those large properties then typically change to become tourism-based or residential, rooted in financial and speculative goals. This social conflict crystallises in acts of protest which call for public use of and access to rural land. For example, hiking expresses a recreational need as well as a need for socially equitable spatial planning. Regulatory framework makes urban sprawl possible and legalises it. Particularly, applying amnesty to illegal dwellings and holiday villas in the countryside, such as by the Laws enacted in 2012. This process fosters rural gentrification privatising these commons with the alibi of the economic crisis and using the rhetoric of sustainability.

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Notes

1 According to data from the Ministry of Infrastructure [online], the mean price of private housing for 2012 in the Balearic Islands (1,839.6 €/m2) was the fourth highest of Spain’s autonomous regions, preceded only by that of the Basque Country (2,522.7), Madrid (2,078.6) and Catalonia (1,878).

2 The athletic race “Ultra Mallorca Serra de Tramuntana” in 2011, with 250 participants covering 106 kilometres and a cumulative ascent of 4,200 metres, had to be carried out on paved road in the areas of Es Rafal (Banyalbufar) and Son Pacs (Esporles and Valldemossa), as the owners of rural plots of land withheld their permission for passage (<online>, [enquiry : 14/4/2011]).

3 According to 30 municipal catalogues compiled by the Council of Mallorca since 1997, give the figure 27.4 % as the percentage of trails of recreational interest have restricted access. (194 out of 707, according to an enquiry made of the Environmental Department of the Council of Mallorca in June 2011).

4 The website http://disurbia.blogalia.com, on which urban planning breaches are reported, details some cases, such as: Son Balaguer de Puigpunyent, Ternelles and Es Fangar (MANRESA, 8/5/2011).

5 That same year, the A Desalambrar (“Cut the Chains”) platform appeared in Cordoba (<online>), forming part of the “Plataforma Ibérica por los Caminos Públicos” (Iberian Platform for Public Paths).

6 Among other initiatives aimed at providing information and at protest, we would like to single out that of Joan Carles Palos, president of the Grup Excursionista de Mallorca from 1999 to 2009 (<online>).

7 The “Pla especial d’ordenació i protecció de la Ruta de Pedra en Sec”, initially approved at the Plenary Session of the Council of Mallorca on 11th July, 2008 (Balearic Islands Official Bulletin No. 110, 07-08-2008, p. 77) <online> [enquiry: 13/05/2011] and the “Pla especial d’ordenació i protecció de la Ruta Artà – Lluc”, initially approved at the Plenary Session of the Council of Mallorca on 1st September, 2008 (Balearic Islands Official Bulletin No. 8, 15-01-2009, p. 10). <online> [enquiry: 26/01/2012].

8 As per the specifications of the agreement between the mayor of Puigpunyent (Mallorca) and the representative of the company Dasvidania, S.L., signed on 10th October 2007.

9 Ruling 95/2011 of 20th October 2011 by Inca small claims court no. 2, by Magistrate Judge Vicente Martínez López. The statement prevail property law saying that “… the property is presumed to be free and anyone who alleges the existence of any easements must prove them”.

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List of illustrations

Title Fig. 1 - Map of buildings and swimming pools on the Balearic Islands
Caption The island on the left is Majorca; Menorca is on the upper right; Ibiza and Formentera on the lower right.
Credits Source: Topographic Map of the Balearic Islands. Reprinted with permission from Sitibsa S.A. (Govern de les Illes Balears), Palma (Majorca).
URL http://mediterranee.revues.org/docannexe/image/6638/img-1.png
File image/png, 472k
Title Photo 1
Caption A protest hike on October 12, 2009 asserted the public right to use the Camí de Ternelles path to the Castell del Rei (Pollença, Majorca).Hikers jumped over an illegal barrier (Bosch and Garcia, 2009: 17) with the permission of the environmental branch of the public administration but with opposition from the property owner. The March family, claiming the private nature of the estate adjacent to the path, argued that the danger posed by hunters justified their decision to construct the barrier.
Credits Source: Macià Blázquez Salom.
URL http://mediterranee.revues.org/docannexe/image/6638/img-2.png
File image/png, 540k
Title Fig. 2
Caption Map of barriers that close off hiking trails on Majorca, as of May 2011, with emphasis placed on some of the most controversial estates.
Credits Source: Macià Blázquez, based on information compiled by Antoni Gorrías Duran. He has acted as a court-appointed expert in lawsuits dealing with access to trails on Majorca (Es Fangar, Ternelles, Son Balaguer, etc.). His method aims to provide information on the closure of public trails, displayed on the historical rural property land register map of 1956, the topographic military map of 1931 and the map commissioned by Cardenal Despuig, drawn up in 1784.
URL http://mediterranee.revues.org/docannexe/image/6638/img-3.png
File image/png, 338k
Title Photo 2
Caption Privatization of the lookout point at the Tower of Sa Pedrissa in Cala Deià (Majorca) due to the construction of a luxury villa. On 23rd August 2009, a protest hike took place calling for public use of the route.
Credits Source: Macià Blázquez Salom.
URL http://mediterranee.revues.org/docannexe/image/6638/img-4.png
File image/png, 751k
Title Fig. 3
Caption Hiking trail map drawn up using guides published in 1995.
Credits Source: Blázquez and Roig, 1999.
URL http://mediterranee.revues.org/docannexe/image/6638/img-5.png
File image/png, 145k
Title Fig. 4
Caption Hiking trail map drawn up using guides published in 2007.
Credits Source: Centre de Recerca Econòmica. Caixa de Balears, “Sa Nostra” and the University of the Balearic Islands.
URL http://mediterranee.revues.org/docannexe/image/6638/img-6.png
File image/png, 393k
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References

Electronic reference

Macià Blázquez Salom, « More villas and more barriers: Gentrification and the enclosure of rural land on Majorca », Méditerranée [Online], 120 | 2013, Online since 30 May 2015, connection on 20 February 2017. URL : http://mediterranee.revues.org/6638 ; DOI : 10.4000/mediterranee.6638

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About the author

Macià Blázquez Salom

Grup d’Investigació sobre Sostenibilitat i Territori, GIST, University of the Balearic Islands, mblazquez@uib.cat

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Copyright

Tous droits réservés

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