Cultural facilities

Port of Barcelona approves concession to Hermitage Museum despite opposition from City Council

Janet Sanz criticises the port for going ahead without the legally essential agreement with the city council

3 min
The site where the Hermitage would go next to the Hotel Vela

BarcelonaThe Board of Directors of the Port of Barcelona has voted in favour of granting a site to the franchise of the Hermitage museum. Thus, the entity, on whose board the City Council of Barcelona sits, has ignored the request for extra time made yesterday by the city and has given free rein to private investors to move forward with the project if they obtain authorisation from the City Council. The City asked for the withdrawal of this item from the agenda, but the Port has ignored the second request for postponement of the decision. According to the communiqué issued by the Port, the concession is conditional on "a joint project between the Hermitage and the Gran Teatre del Liceu being presented within two months and the approval of an agreement between the Port and the Barcelona City Council. With this cooperation, the future space would be promoted as a multidisciplinary and transversal cultural centre," the communiqué also states, "endowed with a differential character and with a strong local component and rooted in the city, uniting the Gran Teatre del Liceu ensign to the project. The new proposal also responds to the demands of Barcelona City Council for an innovative cultural project, more for the local public and sustainable from the point of view of mobility". Liceu sources say they maintain the same position as in recent days and declined to make further statements.

Deputy mayor Janet Sanz has regretted that the Port did not wait to have a concession ready that included an agreement with the consistory - which is a condition sine qua non - which, according to the City Council's legal services, "makes no sense" because it obliges the City Council to respond to the request of private investors when the agreement should be with the Port. Sanz has also regretted that "there is no more concretion" of what will be the new museum project, which at the last minute has been linked to the Liceu. "It makes no sense that today they bring us to vote on something that is old. If there was a different project we could talk, which is what we were willing to do to reach a good agreement," she said. The deputy mayor of Ecology, Urbanism, Infrastructure and Mobility, and City Council representative on the Port's Board of Directors, was "surprised" by the decision of the Port without "the agreement with the City Council". The City will have to study the legal steps to follow to protect the municipal interests.

Legal complications

According to Sanz, Wednesday's decision "legally complicates" the case because it states that there is another inconsistency: "the port, which is who has gone ahead and made an administrative concession without having an agreement and without the complicity with the City Council, incorporates a clause where the Port is left without liability and derives its liability to the City Council, when we have not made any concessions and therefore have no administrative derivative". That is why the State Attorney's Office, together with the mayor of El Prat de Llobregat, have aligned themselves with Barcelona City Council and have also voted against the concession. On the other hand, Puertos del Estado and the Generalitat have voted in favour. The competent administration to grant the concession is the Port but the special urban plan of the area derives from an agreement with the City Council to determine the cultural use of the site.

A more complex area

"The city-port relationship must continue to develop beyond this [the Hermitage]", says Janet Sanz, who criticises the fact that "the Port has protected its patrimonial interests and ignored the interests of the city". The deputy mayor has also insisted that it is positive that there are projects that want to be based in the port, such as the Liceu and the European Urban Tech, which are added to projected buildings such as the Faculty of Navigation, the sheds and the Maremagnum area. The City Council foresees "future uses of these plots and buildings that make the citizens return to occupy these spaces, which is what we defend". "We will be proactive to make this happen," he said