The Basque Government announced that the Basque Country is the first autonomous community in Spain to receive the initial batch of Next Generation European Funds related to urban regeneration, which form part of the Recovery Plan to repair the economic and social damage caused by the pandemic. The Government of Spain has delivered 16.7 million euros that will go to the four neighbourhoods that have their projects underway as part of the Opengela project.
«The Basque Country is the first Spanish community to receive this aid for having advanced projects in this area,» explained the Department of Territorial Planning, Housing and Transport. This refers to the urban regeneration initiatives in the neighbourhoods of Otxarkoaga (Bilbao), Txonta (Eibar), Aramotz (Durango) and Basaundi Bailara (Lasarte-Oria), whose distribution of funds has already been established and which will now begin the administrative process to access them.
The first two neighbourhoods started the European Opengela project in May 2019, as pilots. Durango and Lasarte-Oria are subsequently replicating the model and it is hoped that in the future it will be extended to other Basque cities, and also in Europe.
The 16.7 million received will be used to increase the direct subsidies granted to the four local councils to finance the integral urban regeneration projects in vulnerable neighbourhoods, which are already underway and aim to improve the quality of life of a total of more than 1,500 people and 740 dwellings spread over 65 house numbers.
The aim of these projects is not only to improve accessibility and energy efficiency with the refurbishment of residential buildings and the redevelopment of the whole area, but also to address their social situation, through technical offices and neighbourhood proximity offices to provide information, manage works and aid and promote local training and employment plans to boost their economic reactivation.
Specifically, the investment from the European funds will be used to improve the energy efficiency of the homes and buildings to be refurbished, which should achieve a reduction in non-renewable primary energy consumption of more than 45% in some cases and 60% in general depending on the case.
The regeneration project of the Otxarkoaga neighbourhood in Bilbao, which affects 240 dwellings spread over 16 house numbers (five blocks), will add 6.56 million euros to the 3.55 million euros provided by the Basque Government and 997,139 euros from the City Council. Private individuals are investing 1.17 million. The integral action of this project consists of, in addition to the aforementioned actions, the extension of housing in three of the portals, the recovery of a commercial building to house socio-cultural activities and the installation of photovoltaic panels on its roof, and the constitution of a community of shared energy self-consumption.
In addition to the 1.8 million euro grant from the Basque Government to Eibar Town Council – which in turn is providing a further 2.45 million euro – 2.15 million euro from the Next Funds have been added for the Txonta rehabilitation project, which will benefit 75 homes spread over 16 house numbersenergy-savingenergy-saving, and which stands out for the construction of a public lift to improve accessibility and the demolition of obsolete industrial ruins, which involves the redevelopment of the space. The owners will contribute 734,868 euros for the intervention. It should be borne in mind that, although the Txonta project covers 221 homes, the Next Funds are limited to 75 of them as they are the ones that meet the project start dates or the energy saving percentages established in Royal Decree 853/2021.
The project for the regeneration of the Aramotz neighbourhood in Durango, which involves 128 dwellings spread over 16 house numberss, will receive an additional 3.66 million euros for its refurbishment from European funds, which will be added to the 3.4 million euro subsidy from the Basque Country and 1.08 million euros from the municipality itself. The owners, for their part, will invest 2.86 million euros. Its urban regeneration has the peculiarity of including the diversion of a channelled stream, which runs unburied in the inner area of the residential buildings.
Basaundi Bailara (Lasarte-Oria)
The regeneration project for the Basaundi Bailara neighbourhood in Lasarte-Oria will add 4.38 million euros to the 3.3 million euro grant awarded by the Basque Government, which covers 151 dwellings spread over 16 portals, and includes urban development work and refurbishment of residential buildings with improvements in accessibility and energy efficiency. The City Council will invest 1.93 million and the owners 3.33 million.