Society 08/10/2021

Macro-neighbourhood for 15,000 residents to be built, half of it social housing

Cerdanyola del Vallès reactivates the expansion project in the Synchrotron area, with a large 200 ha. park and a business area

3 min
Sunrise Park

BarcelonaIt is not easy to find such a large stretch of undeveloped land in the middle of Barcelona's dense metropolitan area. The 400-hectare Parc de l'Alba in Cerdanyola del Vallès, next to Sant Cugat, is to be completely transformed over the next decade. The consortium formed by Incasòl and the Cerdanyola City Council plans to build a new neighbourhood with 5,733 homes where 15,000 people could potentially live. It will also include a business area around ALBA Synchrotron and create a commercial area and a large park that will occupy 200 hectares.

The design of the space has taken decades – the project already appeared in the General Metropolitan Plan (PGM) of 1976 – and along its way it has run up against the courts, which in 2017 annulled the Urban Master Plan (PDU), after a lawsuit by environmental organisation Cerdanyola Via Verda (ACVV). Finally, with modifications and with the green light from both the City Council and the Generalitat, the project faces the final phase to tender the first work next year and also market the first plots to companies that want to put it in place.

The future neighbourhood, which will continue Cerdanyola's urban fabric and will grow towards the surroundings of the current Cerdanyola Universitat train station, will be a residential area with 5,733 homes, 47% of which will be subsidised, according to the director of the Institut Català del Sòl (Incasòl), Mercè Conesa. The construction is expected to take ten to fifteen years and is seen as a way to respond to the large demand for housing in Barcelona's metropolitan area, Conesa added.

The future metropolitan urban development project in Cerdanyola del Vallès

The commercial area is surely one of the thorniest points of the project, and has changed since the initial approach, which proposed a large shopping center. The proposal raised a stir, among other things, because there are already shopping centres in nearby towns such as Sant Cugat. The new proposal includes a smaller shopping centre, which will be located near the train station, and will also have office space above – a model inspired by the Illa Diagonal. In exchange, there will be more spaces for small businesses on the ground floors of future developments.

The space for companies around ALBA Synchrotron – which is also preparing its expansion – wants to take advantage of the proximity to the University and its research centers as well as the Technoloy Park, mayor of Cerdanyola del Vallès Carlos Cordón explained. "The project is an opportunity for the country after years of struggle and thanks to the complicity of all those involved," the socialist mayor said.

Simulation of the future residential neighbourhood and business area in the background, around ALBA Synchrotron.

Park on the old landfill

Another of the points of the project that raises concern among neighbours and activists is the old landfill of Can Planas, closed years ago, which will now be covered by a large urban park. The Generalitat has committed to carry out the sealing work: "It will be done with exhaustive control", Conesa emphasizes, who stresses that the current techniques allow to act safely and "make the most of the land as other countries have done". The green area is to connect the natural parks of Collserola and Sant Llorenç del Munt-Serra de l'Obac.

As for infrastructures, the future residential neighbourhood is drawn taking into account railway projects on the horizon, but which today are far away. The current Renfe Cerdanyola Universitat station would be the node of a modal centre that would connect the future branch of Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC) from Gràcia station in Barcelona. In addition, two shuttle services will be put out to tender: one will link the Rodalies station with Cerdanyola and Ripollet and the other with Sant Cugat FGC station.

In addition, all the future roads will include cycle paths and will be designed to be accessible on foot. The second bridge that connects Parc de l'Alba with the UAB will be widened to guarantee pedestrian and bicycle access, and a large park-and-ride car park is planned next to the train station.