It’s not the stairs themselves. The problem is how the affects are resolved. A complex three-way match – Sagrada Família, affected neighbors and the City Council – that has dragged on for years and years. The works are progressing without pause and the new government team has set out to find a consensual urban planning solution during this mandate. This is the main commitment that the residents started yesterday after a first meeting in which the first deputy mayor and head of the urban planning area, Laia Bonet, pledged to guarantee access to housing to those who must be resettled and that the forced expropriations will be borne by the Sagrada Família.

There was no mention of the number of properties affected, nor was any of the options on the table considered as a starting point. Yesterday’s meeting at the City Council served “to raise the current situation and see the perspective with which we focus on the coming years”, said Bonet. A first meeting point in which it was considered as a priority to put an end to the scenario of provisionality caused by the General Metropolitan Plan of 1976, which reserves a wide promenade of two blocks in length in front of the facade of La Glòria.

The second commitment acquired by the municipal government is to guarantee access to housing for the affected residents, “and we must do so during this mandate to be able to translate the current urban planning approach into a new legal reality”, added Bonet. The intention is that the solution adopted before May 2027 is the result of consensus and the one that prevails when the Temple Construction Board, which plans to finish the facade of the Glory within ten years, tackles the project of the staircase

In addition to the first deputy mayor, the meeting was also attended by the chief architect, Maria Buhigas, and other technicians from the urban planning area, two representatives of the Association of Neighbors of the Sagrada Família and two from the platform of those affected by the works. One of them, Salvador Barroso, emphasized “the good willingness of the City Council”, although he acknowledged that no specific proposal has been discussed, “what has become clear is that 48 years of provisionality, that the right to housing of those affected will prevail, that the commitment will be firm and that the Sagrada Família will take care of the cost”.

Neighborhood leader Gabriel Mercadal agreed with him: “We left happier than when we entered”, he affirmed and emphasized the importance of the agreements reached. And although a schedule of meetings between the City Council and residents has not been set, they hope to have the next meeting after the summer, in September.

The final stretch of the works on the Sagrada Família thus face a new stage. The Temple Construction Board has maintained that it will not give up Gaudí’s project and the grand staircase to access what will be the main facade. This access would consist of a platform five meters above Carrer Mallorca, with cars driving underneath, and the staircase would be located in the inner section of the island between Carrer Mallorca and Carrer Valencia.

This new scenario began to be drawn last March when the mayor Jaume Collboni and the councilor of the Eixample, Jordi Valls, visited the Sagrada Família. It was the first visit a mayor made to the temple in years. A few days later, at the press conference to present the balance sheet of the 2023 activity, the CEO of the Sagrada Família Foundation, Esteve Camps, insisted that “we need to sit down and talk, agree on progress”. A few weeks later, Laia Bonet visited the temple and met with the board of trustees.

Yesterday, after the meeting with neighborhood representatives – the Sagrada Família was not called -, Bonet affirmed that “now that we have a more specific schedule for the works, from the municipal government we wanted to face the situation, put an end to provisionality and give continuity to the facade of the Glory”.

The works calendar on the table places the completion of the tower of Jesus, the tallest in the temple, for the end of next year and a deadline of ten years to finish the facade of the Glory. To complete the vertical work, the Sagrada Família already has the licenses. “What cannot happen is that the urban planning solution does not begin to be debated until the facade of la Glòria is finished”, Bonet pledged.

Yesterday it did not matter which of the options that have been presented to the residents so far is the one with the most options. New transcend if a starting point has been set. In February 2022, the government led by Ada Colau presented three options to the residents. A first in which no impact was considered, which meant doing without the staircase. A second option in which 171 homes were affected and a third in which the affected flats were reduced to 92.

“Our red line has always been that the affected neighbors are rehoused in equivalent housing and in the same area,” said Mercadal. In this sense, one of the places proposed to resettle the neighbors would be the adjacent island, between Marina and Lepant, which with a view to the future already bought the Sagrada Família back in the day.

Based on these proposals, the neighbors made new contributions. For example, building an underground car park inside the island between Valencia and Aragon that could have capacity for 63 coaches, which would reduce the impact on the neighborhood of the thousands of tourists who visit the temple every day.

Laia Bonet yesterday also referred to the effects that the temple’s tourist activity has on the neighborhood and explained that work continues on the commitments that the Sagrada Familia had acquired in 2018, when it was granted the building permit, for minimize its impact on the monument’s surroundings. “We are working and drawing the measures that will be taken, which will also help to improve the relations of the Sagrada Família with the neighbors of the neighborhood”, said Bonet.

The Sagrada Familia now awaits its turn. The board of trustees is open to dialog and debate all proposals. “This project must be carried out in agreement with the City Council and finding fair solutions for everyone”, Esteve Camps has expressed on numerous occasions.