El Cabanyal is a protected neighbourhood of the city of Valencia, which was declared as a Cultural Interest Property in 1993 under the typology of Historic Quarter. Since 1998, a municipal project threatens to extend an avenue through the middle of this neighbourhood. “Salvem el Cabanyal” platform is created as an opposition to this plan: we believe that the result from dividing a historical neighbourhood into two halves is not having two historic areas, but the destruction of our heritage.1
CABANYAL – CANYAMELAR: CULTURAL PROPERTY ENDANGERED
(or go to the extended explanation)
Again we see the eternal confrontation: between heritage conservation and „speculative development” of a city. Since the last century, the people of Cabanyal have lived with the threat of the expansion of Blasco Ibáñez Avenue. With the construction of the railway station in Serrería Avenue, we felt that history of this avenue ended. It was the desired connection of Valencia with Sea Villages.
On July 24, 1998, in the congress of Valencia Council, the Popular Party, with its majority, approved the draft of extending Blasco Ibáñez Av. to the sea. The project involves the destruction of 1651 homes and destruction of urban grid of Cabanyal – Canyamelar, a neighborhood declared Property with Cultural Interest. This project splits the former village into two halves completely isolated from each other.
The project of extending Blasco Ibáñez Avenue to the sea destroys a historic set of ancient buildings. Furthermore, the project also destroys a way of life, of social and human relationships, a culture of special character because of its relationship with the sea.
Since then the neighbors of Cabanyal – Canyamelar – Cap de França have not stopped fighting for their rights and homes, requesting a Plan of Conservation and Rehabilitation of the district without any response by the municipality of Valencia, which has not even agreed to meet the representatives from the neighborhood.
HISTORY OF ORIGINS
This quarter has been until 1897 an independent municipality called “Poble Nou de la Mar”. Its special atmosphere comes from the straightening of the ancient barracks into parallels to the sea. The fishing village soon became a popular zone for repose and leisure time which can be seen by the good amount of traditional farmer’s houses turning up together with the barracks which belonged to the most favorite ones in the XVIII century. Also the presence of hostelries which were announced in the press then contributed to the attractiveness of the quarter.
Over the XIX century the quarter grew in a parallel form to the sea and at the end of the century the summer visitors of Valencia started to rent or to buy houses from the fishers and dock workers. The prosperous bourgeoisie was building chalets deluxe primarily at the beach from “los Baños de las Arenas (Chalet de Blasco Ibáñez, 1.902)”.
El P.G.O.U (Plan General de Ordenación Urbana) meaning ‘the general plan for urban organization’ from 1988 categorized the quarter as “Zona de Planeamiento diferida”. The latter states that it is not possible to come to a solution or a compromise concerning the expansion of Blasco Ibáñez neither to an agreement to preserve the urban carcass. Herewith slowly damage to the quarter began due to poor building licenses and the threat of complete destruction.
The Cabanyal-Canyamelar is declared as “Heritage of Cultural Interest” through law of 3rd May of 1993. This declaration meant for the local government the obligation to design a provisional “special plan” for the protection of the cultural interest. This plan was supposed to be sent to the urban department in order to receive final approval within one year since publishing the declaration. This way, the Cabanyal shall be subject of the rules and regulations laid down in the Ley de Patrimonio Histórico de 1985, the law to protect heritages of cultural and historical interests.
However, the legal framework continues through the declaration “el Conjunto Histórico de Valencia como Bien de Interés Cultural”. This collaboration agreement between the provincial government of Valencia state and the local government of Valencia City was realized to develop and exercise the urban planning concluded in the historical resolution by the City signed en June 1994 between Mayoress Rita Barberá Nolla and Counselor in cultural affairs Pilar Pedraza Martínez.
According to the Law of Valencian-Cultural Heritage, chap. III, article 39, paragraph 2: “The special plans for the protection of the historical heritage shall possess the following criteria: a) the urban structure and architecture of the heritage as well as the general characteristics of the environment and the type of landscape shall be preserved. Modifications concerning straightening, changes in development potential, fragmentation or agglomeration of building shall not be allowed if they do not contribute to a better general conservation of the heritage”.
Consequently, the project of extending Avenue Blasco Ibáñez contravenes culture, legislation and additionally the will and way of life of the people from this village. Instead of regaining and preserving a quarter with future as a cultural and touristic centre (when travelling, people are interested to visit ancient and typical sites from a city), instead of preserving the legacy of identity for future generations, we create a city each time less homelike for the sake of a barbarian development typical for the 70s.
For rehabilitation without destruction, for a sustainable architecture, for the preservation of our heritage, we demand the government of Valencia to reflect and, to correct itself because self-correction can only do wise people.
The preservation and rehabilitation of Cabanyal-Canyamelar would mean for the City of Valencia the chance to enjoy and have a unique cultural centre in Europe that can develop itself into a great touristic attraction and moreover, a quarter with future with an urban carcass respectful towards its environment, tradition and art. The destruction of this quarter would mean for Valencia to loose again a tremendous part of its identity.
On 22 april 1998 various parties (neighbors, tradesmen, political opposition and cultural organizations) have created the platform “Salvem El Cabanyal” (“Save the Cabanyal”) to stop the expansion of Blasco Ibáñez. Since this day action against the destruction has been taken by the platform “Salvem El Cabanyal”. The first event was the celebration of three public dinners in one of the places of the quarter during June and July. About 4000 people signed the petition against the plan of the local government.
If you want to get to know the history of activities by the platform “Salvem el Cabanyal” please click here (text in spanish)
1La Plataforma Salvem el Cabanyal: doce años de lucha ciudadana (2010)