Urban Planning

New powers and the start of work for new urban planning


As a result of Law 31/2010, the new metropolitan administration has acquired new powers with regard to integrated metropolitan urban planning. During the period from 2011 to 2015, technical considerations were made for the process of drafting the new Urban Master Plan (PDU).

Some of the main new powers in urban planning include:
  • Formulation of the metropolitan Urban Master Plan (PDU) and of the Metropolitan Urban Development Plan (POUM).
  • Processing of urban planning of a metropolitan nature or affecting more than one municipality.
  • Preparation of reports required for the authorization of provisional works and uses.
From 2011 to 2015, the AMB commenced a process of technical reflection concerning the drafting of the new PDU, the document which will guide regional planning of the metropolitan area and which will replace the Metropolitan General Plan (PGM) in effect. This technical analysis is being carried out through different formats: thematic workshops, the collection "Quaderns PDU metropolità", and the "Metropolis Barcelona" exhibition.

The Directorate of Urban Planning Services has continued with its task of providing cooperation and technical, legal, and economic assistance to the metropolitan municipalities with regard to planning, action programs, and projects. During this period, studies, reports, and documents regarding planning and urban management were prepared and have defined and developed support programs.

These tasks require basic information and the execution of studies in various fields in order to have accurate knowledge of the metropolitan area. During this four-year period, a notable achievement was the finalization of the Metropolitan Topographical Map, which encompasses the entire urban metropolitan nucleus, and the execution of a series of studies which provide a broader and synthetic vision of the region, intended for the drafting of the future PDU.
During the aforementioned period, the AMB began a process of reflection and technical discussions in order to draft the new metropolitan Urban Master Plan (PDU). This will be the document that establishes the structural foundations for the urban planning of the metropolitan area and which will determine various aspects such as the lines of sustainable urban development, measures to protect undeveloped land, and ground reserves which shall be allocated for infrastructure, general systems, facilities, social housing, and the development of economic activities.


The discussion of which lines should shape the drafting of the new PDU are centred on the following three axes. The first was the technical reflection, driven by thematic workshops in which experts from various disciplines debated the main aspects to be incorporated in the new plan. Another was the publication of "Quaderns PDU metropolità" as a means of encouraging technical reflection and dissemination of the works resulting from the workshops, as well as from the numerous urban and regional studies available to the AMB. The third axis was communication and participation, which are key elements for enriching the Plan by taking into account the worries and desires of institutions, collectives, and individual citizens; the concentration from 2011 to 2015 was on organizing the exhibition on the metropolitan area called Metropolis Barcelona, which took place in the Design HUB space in Barcelona from January to April 2015.

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Metropolitan PDU
  • Workshops
    Urbanism of open spaces: landscape, leisure and production. Workshop hold in Santa Coloma de Gramenet
    On 3rd December 2013, the first of the six workshops held at different locations and metropolitan cities for nearly a year and a half was conducted. These meetings allowed for an in-depth treatment of various aspects relevant to regional planning, such as the functionality of open spaces, social and productive dynamics, adherence to the European urban planning system, urban innovation, mobility, and the metabolism of the urban metropolitan area. Similarly, the workshops made it possible to reflect on the role which the PDU should have as a tool to ensure the sustainability of the metropolitan city planning model, and by extension as a tool to benefit quality of life and social cohesion in the future.

    Fifteen international experts and seventy local speakers prepared materials and presentations for discussions attended by an average of 250 participants per session. The academic and professional profile of the experts, speakers, and attendees was very diverse, with the aim of bringing into the discussion various urban planning, environmental, social, and economic factors impacting the territorial expression of the metropolitan area. In the same vein, after completion of each of the workshops, participation was prolonged for an additional four weeks by means of an online participation tool. These virtual forums allowed for further discussions and the provision of any relevant documentation. Upon completion of each of the forums, a dynamic team compiled the main contributions and this documentation will be handed off to the future drafting board of the PDU.
  • "Quaderns"
    Impact of PGM modifications | J. Parcerisa and A. Clua (LUB)
    The collection "Quaderns PDU metropolità" is the means of dissemination of the ideas and thoughts generated in the context of the workshops. This publication is intended to serve as a methodological and document support tool for the drafting of the future PDU and has been created with the intention of permanence in order to become a platform for the diffusion of the numerous city planning and regional studies done by metropolitan institutions as well as those which are generated in the process of preparing the PDU.

    The eight issues published during this mandate have addressed many different themes related to regional planning, such as modifications to the Metropolitan General Plan (PGM) since its approval in 1976, the ecological functionality of open spaces in the metropolitan area, problems related to social inclusion and poverty, the housing market, the economy and the role of metropolitan industry, the road network, and the role of major infrastructure systems such as the port or the airport.

    More information
    Quaderns PDU Metropolità
  • Metropolis Barcelona Exhibition
    General view of the exhibition from the access area

    Communication and participation are key elements which should help to enrich the PDU with the contributions of citizens, socio-economic players, and the metropolitan municipalities. During this mandate, an initial activity was organized to promote communication and citizen participation through the Metropolis Barcelona exhibition, which opened in the Design HUB space in January 2015 with the aim of encouraging discussions and citizen participation in the various aspects forming the metropolitan reality, as well as the role to be played by the new standard of urban planning, the metropolitan PDU.

    The exhibition was organized around three main blocks. A first space showcasing the dynamics that led to the formation of the metropolitan area, and the various urban planning tools which have helped to shape the Barcelona metropolitan area. In the second section, the key environmental, social, cultural, and economic factors which helped give rise to the formation of the metropolitan environment were presented. Finally, the third part of the exhibition took a look at the major challenges which the new urban planning of the metropolitan area must face, including those primarily related to the transformations of contemporary societies, economic globalization, and environmental challenges.

    Metropolis Barcelona involved 29 commissioned experts from various fields and the venue itself encompassed an area of 645 m² featuring nine models, two large audio-visual systems, and several panels and monitors divided into 17 subject areas.

    View of the exhibition from the hall of dHub
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    Metropolis Barcelona Exhibition
Urban planning organizes the region and rationalizes its use of resources, thus generating a model of a relationship between people, developed areas, and the system of open spaces. It is an essential tool for ensuring the socially cohesive and environmentally sustainable development of the large metropolitan conurbation. In this context, the AMB has the advantage of being a local institution rooted in the territory, but with technical guidance exceeding the municipality, which allows it to address problems in depth and to ensure relations between various players at the metropolitan level.

The Urban Planning Service responds to the demands of the various metropolitan town councils on issues of urban planning, and this translates to the preparation of reports and studies, as well as the deployment of figures for planning and urban management.

Regional and urban strategies in Montcada i Reixac

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Main city planning projects 2011-2015 (cat)
Urban development projects
Basic information is an essential tool for carrying out any regional policy or action. The generation and maintenance of such knowledge requires quite a lot of human, technical, and financial resources. The AMB maintains two valuable sources of information: it possesses a series of very detailed scaled mapping products with the aim of physically describing its territory; there is also consolidated planning which outlines current urban development regulations applying to the metropolitan area. Each of these two sources of information can be consulted at their respective websites. Using these sources and other databases, also of its own making and pertaining to socio-economic and environmental information, the AMB prepares studies and analyses the metropolitan situation, always with the aim of facilitating planners and managers of basic tools to carry out their various regional policies and actions.

More information
AMB Cartography Catalogue
AMB Urban Planning website
  • Cartography
    Metropolitan cartography flight years
    Since 2002, the AMB has been leading a mapping project for the preparation and updating of the Metropolitan Topographic Map at a scale of 1:1000 in 3D, covering both urban and rural areas. This mapping endeavour has been registered with the Cartographic Registry of Catalonia and has obtained the status of an official map. Throughout the course of this undertaking, territorial coverage has been expanded with the incorporation of 211 new sheets corresponding to the municipalities of L'Hospitalet de Llobregat and Barcelona, and approximately 30,000 ha of existing maps have been updated.

    Additionally, a project has been launched to recover the different historical map series available in the metropolitan area since 1965. This project complements the work to recover records of historical flights and culminates with the generation of historic orthophotos, such as those from 1965 and 1992.

    In 2012, a project was executed to extend a Local Geodetic Network from the densification of the Utilitarian Network of Catalonia (Fourth Order). With the aim of covering 33 metropolitan parks managed by the AMB, the network consists of 119 vertices, reviews which can be viewed and downloaded via the mapping portal.

    In support of PDU previous studies, aerial filming and oblique aerial photography have been carried out on the most important metropolitan infrastructure, as well as the transitions between urban areas and large forest parks. In collaboration with the technical services of the 36 metropolitan councils, the AMB street map has been updated, with a scale of 1:8000, offering continuous coverage of the entire metropolitan area.

    More information
    AMB Cartography Catalogue
  • Consolidated Planning Text
    Consolidated planning text detail
    The consolidated planning text is produced by the AMB and is used to consult graphic representations of the urban planning in effect in the 36 metropolitan municipalities. During this mandate, the process of semi-annual updates and the protocol for exchanging information between the AMB and the Urban Map of Catalonia, which is maintained by the Government of Catalonia, have been consolidated.

    An agreement has also been signed for collaboration between the AMB and the City Council of Barcelona to unify the cartographic data models and to streamline the exchange of the consolidated planning text between the City Council of Barcelona, the AMB, and the Government of Catalonia.

    Simultaneously, graphic restoration was performed on the original urban planning qualifications of the Metropolitan General Plan (PGM) from 1976, with the same data model and criteria as the consolidated text. This project enabled the commencement of studies on the development of the PGM, which are necessary for the future drafting of the Metropolitan PDU.
  • Territorial studies
    Metropolitan land uses and urban fabrics map
    The aim of regional studies is to provide support for activities of urban planning and development, both at the metropolitan and municipal levels. These works focus mainly on the creation and maintenance of statistical and geographic databases, as well as the development of thematic studies.

    In the 2011-2015 period, various lines of work were consolidated, including improvement of demographic and socio-economic databases; the preparation of cartographic databases of land use and metropolitan urban areas, with historical records dating back to 1956, and an analysis of the evolution of the various sectors of the AMB with regard to residential expansion.

    This data was instrumental in the preparation of socio-economic studies about registered unemployment, the evolution of social security affiliation, the development of the housing market, social vulnerability of the metropolitan population, and analysis of electoral data. Specific operations have also been prepared for the preliminary works on the metropolitan Urban Master Plan (PDU) and for the new AMB institutional website.

    Other works from this time analysed aspects of the economic fabric, such as the research and innovation system and the various commercial hubs. With regard to urban planning, notable undertakings include the study on modifications to the Metropolitan General Plan, the study on the development of growing sectors, preparation of a comprehensive map of the urban fabrics, and the study recognizing the assets of metropolitan roadways: highways, roads and streets. Finally, regarding the ecology of the area, research has been done on the ecological and "landscape" functionality of open metropolitan areas.