There was an interesting article in El País newspaper on Sunday by José Ángel Montañés. Basically the article confirmed that The Sagrada Familia never obtained planning permission for the building and that the land on which it’s built figures officially as an empty plot of land.
The first plans for building on the site date back to 1886. The original architect was Francisco de Paula del Villar who planned to build a simple church. When he left the project one year after work had commenced in 1882, his place was taken by Antoni Gaudí who had grander plans. Although planning permission was sought, it was never approved.
This isn’t really breaking news. Neither is the silence that the construction committee has maintained on the matter. It has always appeared to work on the assumption that it can carry on building regardless. What is news, to me anyway, is that the committee hasn’t sought approval of any kind for the building work that’s going on. In other words, they can build pretty much anything they want without anyone else’s say in the matter. Even when it was discovered that they’d built outside the designated plot area in 2007, no-one said anything.
As the article points out, back in 1994, it was assumed that it would take 100 years to complete the building. That changed to 50 years in 2000 and now work is expected to be completed in 2026, thanks to new construction techniques and the 25 million euros that tourists invest in the building works each year. So isn’t it time something was done to sort out the paperwork?
For those of us who live in the dark shadow of the Sagrada Familia, the article makes for depressing reading. As José Ángel points out in his conclusion, the decision-makers inside the committee only see one possible future – to demolish all the buildings that stand in the way of completing its project. And, chillingly, no-one seems prepared to do anything about it.