The Sitges ‘Beach Use Plan’ for 2022-2026 has been approved at a recent Plenary Session of the Town Council. The plan defines the occupation and distribution of uses and services along the coastline.
The new Use Plan seeks to ‘balance human activity and the protection of the environment with sustainable and innovative coastal management’, said the mayor of Sitges, Aurora Carbonell.
The plan is renewed every five years and this is the first time that a comprehensive adaptation of the uses has been proposed. The mayor said that ‘the current context is an opportunity to build a model of beaches based on experience and at the same time facing the challenges of the climate emergency. It is the right time to bet on a coastal model that goes beyond the quantitative and is committed to sustainability and first-class services’.
Carbonell said that ‘the plan is a commitment of the local government for a better Sitges’ and that she was ‘proud of this step forward as mayor and also as a woman from Sitges’. She said the plan ‘weighs all the interests, not only the economic ones, but also the environmental ones and those of citizens, because the beaches are not owned, they belong to everyone and we have to think about everyone and, above all, in a guarantee of the future that allows us to continue enjoying the coast and face the climatic reality’.
The local councillor for beaches, Guillem Escolà, said that the objectives of the new plan are ‘to enhance the quality, sustainability and identity of Sitges on the beaches, guaranteeing services and adapting their location to the new reality of the coast’. This is a ‘sustainable and rational’ plan, said Escolà, because ‘it balances the services and guarantees them on all beaches, except those that deserve special protection for environmental, overcrowding or heritage reasons’.
The new plan relocates services to the north side, where they will be more protected from possible storms and where a better view of the sunsets will be promoted. The use of awnings and sun loungers will also be concentrated mainly around the bar to avoid the distribution throughout the entire beach.
‘The aim is to achieve a rational use of the beaches, which allows better conservation and maintenance of natural resources and the promotion of quality tourism,’ said Escolà. ‘The new Use Plan responds to a weighing up of all interests and decisions have been made that can best benefit the common good,’ he added.
The plan maintains the sports areas for nautical activities and incorporates new areas such as a new space for children’s leisure on La Fragata beach.
After the approval of the Use Plan in the Plenary, the next step is to submit the document to the Catalan government so that it can make the final authorisation before it enters into force.
The new plan also affects the distribution of the bars – or ‘chiringuitos’. In some areas they are being reduced or eliminated for reasons of overcrowding, environmental or landscape.
Reorganisation of Services
New catering service
For the first time, a new use has been defined for the bars that will be able to offer a catering service. This is aimed to generate more activity and generate more employment.
Reduction of bars – ‘chiringuitos’
Garraf Beach: from 2 to 1
To promote the cultural values of the set of buildings of the Casetes de Garraf, in the process of receiving a Cultural Asset of National Interest (BCIN), a bar that was located in front of the buildings will be removed.
Les Botigues Beach: from 6 to 4
The plan’s reorganisation responds to ‘environmental criteria due to the presence of areas with dune vegetation that constitute a habitat of high environmental interest’. Sitges Town Council is obliged to preserve and take appropriate measures to improve this area by reducing the number of services that, ‘due to their own activity, can cause nuisance to wildlife’.
During 2021, several measures had already been established to protect the biodiversity of the area, most of them derived from the report issued by the Biodiversity and Natural Environment Department of the Catalan government, and which must be complied with as a condition for the authorisation of seasonal services.
The reduction of two bars on this beach is intended to promote the environmental values, seeking a balance with the exploitation of services on the beaches, which must also be maintained and guaranteed.
Platja de la Ribera: from 2 to 1
Following the reorganisation criteria indicated above, this beach reduces to one bar.
However, the bar on La Ribera beach proposed in the 2022 Use Plan has dimensions of 124 m2, of which 20m2 correspond to a bar, 4m2 to storage and 100m2 to a terrace. Whilst the number of establishments is reduced, the total surface area of the terrace that was on this beach is maintained.
Estanyol Beach: from 3 to 2
Again, following the reorganisation criteria indicated above, this beach reduces to two bars to achieve an optimisation of public space for the use of citizens and to avoid obvious overcrowding.
Cap dels Grills beach, Riera Xica beach and Bassa Rodona beach
On the beach of Cap dels Grills, the services are eliminated, mainly due to environmental criteria, given the proximity to the natural area of the mouth of the Ribes stream.
At Riera Xica and Bassa Rodona beaches, the services are adapted to the coastal reality and the impact and danger from storms. Users will have access to bars that will be located right at the start of the next beach in order to guarantee a service throughout the season.
The new plan reduces the number of sunbeds by 993 compared to the previous plan.
Sport, children and family
On La Fragata beach the plan includes a non-commercial play area for children’s games with the installation of an elastic pyramid.
On the beach of Les Botigues de Sitges there are five sports areas with beach volleyball courts which are distributed around the four bars provided on this beach. The total occupancy of the activity is 2,560 m2.
In the plan initially approved, a reservation of space has been proposed for the location of a non-commercial recreation area at street level on the beach of Les Botigues, which includes a calisthenics training area of 100 m2 and an area with elements for exercise for the elderly of 50 m2.
Beaches for dogs
The plan provides 1,000 m2 for exercising dogs on Cellerot beach. Located at the end of the beach furthest from the mouth of the Riera de Ribes, next to the beach of Les Anquines, the space will be marked out with removable fences. According to the council’s records, there are 1,000 registered dogs. The proposed measures are aimed at finding a balance between the demand for these spaces and the preservation of the natural space.