The High Court of Justice of the Basque Country (TSJPV) has put a stop to the demolition of the Loyola barracks. It has given the green light to its incorporation into the Special Built Heritage Plan, which will prevent them from being demolished, as the San Sebastián City Council intended.
The transfer of the land of the Loyola barracks was one of the concessions made by the Government of Pedro Sánchez to the PNV in order to be able to approve the latest general budgets of the State. The City Council governed by the PNV and the Basque PSOE approved an agreement in March 2021 that revised the Special Plan for the Protection of Construction Heritage (PEPPC) that left out these military installations. The Consistory intends to demolish the barracks to build 1,700 apartments.
The court’s resolution comes a year after VOX filed a contentious-administrative appeal against the dynamics aimed at its destruction based on reports from the Provincial Council of Guipúzcoa, the Basque Government and two experts.
The Special Plan for the Protection of the Built Heritage defends this early 20th century architectural complex owned by the Ministry of Defense and currently in use by the “Tercio Viejo de Sicilia” Infantry Regiment No. 67.
The San Sebastian City Council did not include the Loyola Barracks as deserving of protection in this special plan, to enable the Ministry of Defense to disaffect it and agree with the City Council to change its ownership for subsequent urban development, after demolition.
To achieve this, the National Legal Vice-Secretariat of VOX, under the direction of Marta Castro, relied on specialized expert reports from two groups of expert architects and historians, where compliance with the necessary requirements for its cataloging was justified.
In its brief, the Contentious-Administrative Chamber affirms that the Barracks “meet the criteria established in the PEPPUC to be protected.” In addition, the TSJPV makes a comparison with another series of barracks that have protection. “This is not conclusive data in itself, since it is evident that they are not identical barracks, but it is an illustrative comparison and one that serves to reinforce the evidentiary conclusion that is sustained,” he justifies in his ruling.
The Basque judges annul with this ruling the intention of the PNV and the Basque PSOE to demolish the Loyola barracks. And they reject its destruction based on the report prepared by the Gipuzkoa Provincial Council in 2009. Any modification of this Alfonsine-style architectural complex must be carried out according to these technical criteria that were initially rejected by the City Council. Mayor Eneko Goia, after learning of the ruling that proves Vox right, has announced the filing of an appeal. The PSE-EE, for its part, is already anticipating the possibility of having to respect the military buildings and reconsider this urban expansion project for San Sebastian along the Urumea River.
The Loyola barracks were installed in the city of San Sebastián in 1926 and are the headquarters of the Tercio Viejo de Sicilia No. 67 Infantry Regiment whose historical origins date back to 1534. In addition to the undoubted achievement in protecting a unique heritage for the city of San Sebastián and for Spain that should be preserved, as the TSJPV has pointed out, with this sentence the nationalists’ purpose of making any vestige of the Army disappear from the province and of weakening the presence of the State and its symbols . These barracks have been the target of seven terrorist attacks.
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