Understanding the New Urban Planning Regulations in the Balearic Islands

The Balearic Official Gazette (BOIB) has recently published the Urban Planning Law of the Balearic Islands, set to come into effect on January 1, 2018. This comprehensive law aims to bring about lasting changes and has incorporated over 30% of amendments proposed by various parliamentary groups. The final text is the result of a participatory process involving more than 60 professionals in the urban planning field.

Key Objectives of the Urban Planning Law:

  1. Consensus and Longevity: The law prioritizes consensus and longevity to provide maximum legal security.
  2. Regulation of Different Land Types: It defines the basic regulations for three types of land, including rustic land, which was not previously covered in the Land Law.
  3. Streamlining Approval Processes: The law aims to expedite the approval of general plans by dividing them into two parts and introducing a new processing system, potentially reducing the current 8-year processing time to 3 years.
  4. Territorial Sustainability: Emphasis is placed on reusing urban land and acting on already-built areas to minimize the use of new land.
  5. Anti-Speculation Measures: Measures are introduced to curb speculation, ensuring strict control over administrative and economic processes. It establishes conditions for urban planning agreements.
  6. Effective Urban Discipline: The law strengthens urban discipline mechanisms to ensure the enforcement of sanctions and the restoration of legal and physical order. It acts as both a preventive and deterrent measure against irregular behavior.
  7. Enhanced Protection for Special Lands: Special protected lands, such as ANEI, ARIP, and APT coastal areas, receive exclusive competence for intervention from councils and their urban discipline agencies.
  8. Increase in Public Housing: The law provides tools for administrations to increase the supply of public housing, especially for social renting.
  9. Prevention of Reclassification: It prevents the reclassification of rural settlements as urban land and closes the door to the amnesty of out-of-order constructions in rustic land.

Focus on Rustic Land Regulations:

The law addresses the urban planning regime of rustic land, providing competence to councils and their discipline offices for specially protected lands like ANEI, ARIP, or APT coastal areas. Strict regulations are in place to protect against amnesty for out-of-order constructions in rustic land. Additionally, small animal shelters and kennels are permitted in rustic land areas.

Streamlined Urban Planning Procedures:

Traditional urban planning is divided into two categories: the general plan and a new detailed planning document. The latter, known as the plan of detailed planning, focuses on flexible elements such as urban form, typologies, and specific uses. Municipalities with over 10,000 inhabitants can approve these plans, and the approval period for general plans is expected to be reduced to three years.

Sustainability Measures and Economic Guarantees:

To encourage the reuse of urban land, the law introduces mechanisms for edification, market availability of vacant urban land, and urban fabric renewal. All urban interventions must undergo economic control, ensuring a viability report for individuals and an economic sustainability report for administrations.

Measures to Combat Speculation:

In conjunction with previous measures, the law ensures that any excessive profits resulting from changes in land classification or profitability must benefit the administration. Urban planning agreements are permitted but subject to strict control and transparency, preventing abnormal situations.

Mandatory Social Housing:

The law mandates administrations to maintain a registry of all public land and allocate it primarily to public social housing. General plans must allocate a minimum of 30% of residential edificability to protected housing.

Urban Discipline Measures:

The law reinforces mechanisms for effective urban discipline, focusing on two processes: the sanctioning process and the restoration/enforcement of altered physical reality. Sanctions for illegal actions vary in economic terms, and fines for illegal constructions in rustic land are significantly higher.

Tackling Atypical Situations:

The law addresses situations like rural settlements and false urban areas. Rural settlements receive a new regulatory framework, and false urban areas have a one-year deadline for municipalities to resolve their status.

Repealing Aspects of Agricultural Law:

The law repeals certain urbanizing aspects of the Agricultural Law, emphasizing territorial planning. It reinstates regulation for agrotourism, equestrian activities, and direct product sales in specific areas.


The new Urban Planning Law of the Balearic Islands represents a significant step toward sustainable and controlled development. Its focus on consensus, efficient procedures, and strict discipline ensures a balanced approach to urban growth, protecting special lands and promoting social housing. It establishes a framework that aims to create resilient and responsible urban spaces in the unique context of the Balearic Islands.

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