Recent Evolution: Spanish Housing Bubble

The spatial configuration of the city of Madrid is determined by its role as the State capital and because of that, as the residence of the monarchy, since the second half of the XVI century. At the West of the city, over natural interest areas, Spanish monarchs created protected spaces for leisure activities. These preserved properties around Madrid were the forests of El Pardo (15,821 ha, 1000 of them are open to general public), Casa de Campo (1722 ha), Vinuelas (3000 ha) and the forests of Boadilla and Pozuelo (800 ha each one). These forests cover the northwest area of the municipality over an environment of great quality, base of the residential urban developments for high social classes. In opposition, the southwest, with the lack of these qualities, is the place where working classes are located. The Casa de Campo is open to general public since the 2nd Republic when the state gave the enjoyment to the city of Madrid. In the General Plan of 1997 this area was incorporated as a consolidated Specific Planning Area and not as a peripheral open space.

After the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) Franco’s regime revitalized Madrid as the state center. This has been essential in the whole configuration of the city. In the early twentieth century a period of slow but continuous population migration from rural areas to the city began and, after the civil war, it drastically increased. Government policies for economic modernization of the country allowed the secondary and tertiary sectors to take off, increasing the hope of having a job and improving the future of rural immigration. From 1900 to 1930 the population doubled to about one million. Thereafter, when the war was finished, the population increased by more than 4% a year until 1950 and then by 5.7% until 1965, when the city reached 2,800,000 inhabitants. Among the urban development strategies of Franco was The Great Madrid. Its aim was to manage the city directly, especially the metropolitan urban growth. Remember that from 1947 to 1954, thirteen municipalities with 325,000 people were absorbed by Madrid and its area increased from 6676 to 60,437 ha.

A slower but regular urban growth led to a population of 3,228,057 in 1975. During the 1970’s there began a process of metropolization with a movement to its bordering municipalities with cheap land and lower urban control for industry and housing. The municipality of Madrid had a negative demographic growth with a loss of almost 400,000 citizens, while the nearby municipalities had a fast increase. The 22 municipalities included in the Madrid Metropolitan Area between 1964 and 1980 grew from 101,180 inhabitants in 1960 to 323,140 in 1970, reaching 820,765 in 1981 and 1,242,051 in 1991. The current ratio in growth rates still shows a great increase in the municipalities within the Madrid Community, but outside the city of Madrid, although in practice the Madrid Community is considered a single urban area.

Only during the Spanish housing bubble was there a demographic growth in the city of Madrid driven by economic growth, the continued expansion of credit and the influx of 600,000 foreign immigrants (55% of the total for the Madrid

Population of the municipality and Madrid Region. Source Compiled by INE, 1900-1997 collection of statistical year-books; 1997-2015. Municipal Register of Inhabitants and population censuses; land use

Fig. 2 Population of the municipality and Madrid Region. Source Compiled by INE, 1900-1997 collection of statistical year-books; 1997-2015. Municipal Register of Inhabitants and population censuses; land use: 1956-2005, General Direction of Urbanism (2006), Corine Land Cover (2006) and SIOSE (2009), Ministry of Development, System of Urban Information (SIU)

Community). The growth rates became positive again between 2000 and 2011 at 1%, although lower than the figure of 2.9% in the rest of the municipalities in Madrid (Fig. 2).

This demographic growth was accompanied by disproportionate urban sprawl, in the classic model form of oil stain, following the city’s road network. From 1956 to 1975 Madrid city doubled its urban area from 7400 to 13,304 ha. At that time urban land of Madrid city was equivalent to the urban land of the rest of 178 municipalities of Madrid Community. During the subsequent decade urban grew moderately with 269 ha a year from 1995 to 2001 and more than 300 ha a year in the following five years. This increment of urban land has not any correspondence with the demographic growth. From 1995 to 2005, population increased in 125,600 new inhabitants while the urban sprawl increased in 3753 ha. In other words, an increment of 4% of the population does not endorse an increment of 20% of the urbanized area. The growth model implanted in Madrid in the last few years, based on the property development and speculation, has promoted the urban sprawl over new neighborhoods that in many cases are not finished yet. The economic and financial crisis has endangered the future of these areas, being very difficult to re-plan them.

Suburban railways, underground, motorways, national roads have hyper-connected the city and their regional area, in addition, the new section of high-speed rail (AVE) and the expansion of Madrid airport have increased national and international connections, essential support for urban sprawl. Taking benefit of this accessibility, public and private urban development initiatives were implemented over large areas.

In the last 20 years 360 new kilometers of motorways have been built for the access to Madrid city: ring roads M-40, M-45 y M-50 and tolled motorways (R-2, R-3, R-4 and R-5). These big rings were proposed by the national and municipal planning of infrastructures since the middle of the past century. First ring road (M-30) has been underground and its traffic volume has increased. Road network of high capacity in Autonomous Community of Madrid has grown from 319 to 1000 km. (1985-2004) and total road system reached from 2728 to 3492 km (De Santiago Rodriguez 2012).

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