Visions for Javea ….can become Reality! - by Tim Ladd

November 2005
The happy coincidence of the process to revise the Javea Town Plan (PGOU) and the implementation of the continuing process of Agenda 21 provides just the opportunity that many despaired of seeing before the Javea they know and love disappears under a thick carpet of concrete.

Although the local political upheavals of mid November are a distraction, the issues remain the same.


In just the last 8 years, Javea has grown from an already popular tourist town of 21,800 inhabitants to one currently with over 30,000. Some recent calculations by the Ayuntamiento put the current population at around 42,000. The number of homes grew in this same period from 15,600 to over 22,000. With plans approved and building licenses outstanding in the pipeline for nearly 4,000 homes, the total population figure could well reach up to nearly 50,000 in the next two or three years, even if not a single further building license were to be issued in this period.

It is accepted that local infrastructure and services have been left well behind by this rapid growth. It is also accepted that it will take at least two years or more to try to catch up with this continually moving target, but significant efforts are underway by the municipality.

The mountain scenery and coastline, that are Javea’s main attractions, cannot themselves expand, and they are themselves under continual threat of encroachment. The relatively small beaches (compared with larger neighbouring tourists resorts) cannot cope with larger numbers in the high season.

The equable climate is also a summer attraction, but this could provide the key to spreading tourist demand into a prolonged season.

The harbour shares its limited space for both a diminishing fishing fleet and leisure craft moorings. There is certainly a huge demand for the latter, while the former suffers from reduced catches and already strict limits imposed on a European basis.

The increase in population has been largely fuelled by the influx of northern Europeans seeking retirement or secondary homes in the sun, and more recently by immigrants from North Africa and South America, seeking employment and higher standards that are unavailable in their home countries. Their respective housing requirements are quite distinct; the former wish to mainly live in independent houses, while the latter are seeking low cost initial accommodation. Visitors from Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia are also in the market for apartments, sometimes partly for rental income.

Although not a direct municipal responsibility, integration in schooling is an issue, while a current lack of day nursery care facilities impact on employment prospects for mothers who wish to work, even on a part time basis.

Tourism and the construction of new “tourist accommodation” provide the main employment sectors. While the former in theory could expand, construction is an area that has finite limits.


Can these issues be reconciled into plans that will allow a sustainable future for Javea?

Yes they can, but this future may require some to forego their current activities and/or aspirations in order to permit the key assets of Javea to remain intact and for this town to remain a desirable place in which to live and for others to visit.


The Coastline and Offshore.

The promontories of Cabo San Antonio, Cabo Prim and Cabo de la Nao provide a special framework of coastline. This whole coastline should be designated at as a “no-take” zone, extending outwards and southwards from the marine reserve off Cabo San Antonio right around the headlands to Moraira. Marine wild life will once again flourish, snorkeling and scuba divers will be encouraged. The odd wreck of an old fishing boat (or more) would be a target dive and a haven for fish and crustaceans. The local ecologists who create blocks for artificial reefs should be assisted to work on a much larger scale just off the shore to encourage the regeneration of marine wild life.

The Montgo.

This magnificent striking emblem of Javea needs all the protection possible from those who seek to build further and further up its slopes. Its limits need to be prominently defined at ground level and regularly patrolled to detect any signs of illegal building. Every opportunity should be taken to reclassify its fringes as fully protected land, if there is any remaining that has yet to be developed.

More defined footpaths across La Plana would encourage walkers and discourage free range walking that disturbs the fragile ecosystems.

The outline plans to return to working order of one or more of the ancient windmills on the edge of La Plana would encourage more visitors to that site and enable them to enjoy a view that they might otherwise miss. An easier footpath ascent could help, as the existing one is not one for the faint hearted!

Not on the Montgo itself, (that ugly, illegal development on the Denia side should be demolished) an environmental field studies center should be established in Javea, perhaps combined with Botanic Garden (see below). This could further enhance the environmental awareness of Javienses of all ages and provide a year round attraction for eco students and tourists.

The Puerto.

Fishing on an effective commercial scale is already in decline in Javea. Neighbouring coastal municipalities have more facilites, but even these may find a commercial future uncertain. Javea should recognize this fact and designate its harbour for leisure moorings and limited commercial boating that would exploit the “no-take” offshore marine reserve. Rather than another onshore restaurant, perhaps a converted boat as a restaurant in the Puerto would offer a further attraction. More drastic remodeling of the quays currently used to service the requirements of commercial fishing should be considered, as an alternative to the highly controversial, and probably unacceptable for the majority, expansion out to sea of the whole port area.

The “tourist” shoreline.

The Puerto – Parador section requires further design and perhaps some engineering ingenuity in the provision of removable access platforms for sea -bathers. Car parking should be limited to the immediate area adjoining the road, and further parking space allocated to serve this area by changing the layout of the parallel Via Augusta.

The Canal Fontana.

Plans are being considered to expand the moorings in this canal by excavating and extending the canal to the west, around the current access slipway. These should be encouraged as these moorings provide local owners the chance to locate more modest sized motor craft.
The Arenal and Saladar.

These areas should be considered as an integrated whole, now that the area immediately inland from the Arenal beach is being developed for apartments. The road system and parking arrangements along the Arenal itself require a complete rethink (something that is already recognized). If not too late, the development directly in front of the Arenal should be reconsidered to at least accommodate far more public parking. The drainage channels to the sea from the Saladar area need to be re opened, kept open and possibly enlarged, to prevent the accumulation of rain water run-off from surrounding areas that otherwise occasionally flood this area.

As the one substantial remaining open area near to the Arenal, the Saladar can be considered for providing a combination of public open space; much needed car parking and the siting of other tourist and municipal facilities. Perhaps a site exchange with the beachside Mas y Mas supermarket would be an attractive option. What is not needed here is any further apartment accommodation. This would have short term profit benefits for developers, yet be an enormous irreversible long-term loss of potential amenity that could provide public facilities for Javea tourists and inhabitants. The options and possibilities are numerous. A design competition would be one way of finding the most attractive combination of these.

Private shoreline housing largely inhibits access to the shoreline south of the Arenal towards Cabo Prim. Any provision of a narrow shoreline path along their boundary walls is at considerable risk from storm damage and needs to be designed accordingly.

Cabo Prim and Portichol Bay

Recent initiatives have protected this area from further development. The designation of the no-take off shore marine reserve would enhance the attraction of this area for divers and allow the sardines a safe (probably only temporary!) safe haven.


By its location, this area is some way off the well-worn tourist tracks. Improvements to the walking paths ascending towards the Cumbre del Sol would open up this area to more visitors throughout the year.

Public Access Open Spaces

In practice, these often turn out to be little more than a gravel patch, a few trees or bushes and the odd park bench. Consideration should be given to combining these small areas into more attractive larger areas, requiring the inclusion of indigenous plants species and others that would allow some habitat for varied bird species other than pidgeons, starlings and sparrows.

A park should be established in the open areas that lie above and between the old town and the Puerto.

If the property with its large orange grove below the Hotel Vila Mediterranée became available, this would be an ideal location for a public park close to the town centre.

A Botanic Garden

To highlight the plants that adapt best to the local climate, a botanic garden should be established. This would feature not only local plants, but also others from similar climates elsewhere. This in itself would be a year round tourist attraction.

The Old Town

The recent agreement for the provision of European funds to improve aspects of the Old Town should be an excellent incentive for the revitalization of this area. There still appear to be a number of abandoned properties or derelict corners that should be brought back to life, perhaps by compulsion? Given that both younger families and the elderly require an environment that is safe, with little need to walk far for local shops, there seem to be further opportunities to rejuvenate this tarnished jewel.


The attraction of Javea as a location for a retirement home for foreigners may be already on the decline. Other countries further easts along the Mediterranean are already offering properties at prices that were last seen in Javea 10 years ago. This applies to apartments, stand-alone houses and a mix of other styles. More important is the age demographic of the current individual house owners. Even though life expectancy is growing, there are still limits at which these owners will succumb. Thus there is likely to be a steady increase in the number of resale properties for the foreseeable future. This should reduce the demand for building new properties, but simultaneously provide employment for those engaged in updating older properties to modern standards.

The demand for apartments could increase, but again are the key attractions of Javea able to withstand the pressure from the numbers of seasonal visitors that these would generate? In other words, even more seasonal visitors would over crowd and thus spoil the very facilities that are Javea’s key attractions. Severe restrictions on future development of all further housing development will have to be considered, though a more generous attitude may be taken to the provision of low cost housing for local people in need and secure homes for the elderly. An annual limit on the construction of new homes should be introduced. Taking into consideration those that are already in the pipeline, there perhaps should be no more licenses issued for the next two or three years, and thereafter an annual limit in growth for any combination of housing types of 2%, predicating an annual population growth of less than 1,000. Some may feel that even this figure would be too high, though no doubt property developers will scream for more.


Tourism is both the heart and soul of Javea. Without due care and proper attention, a fatal heart attack is likely, while those property developers trading with the devil for short-term profit motives could lose for Javea its very soul.

Proper care and attention involves monitoring and targeting those types of tourism for which Javea is best suited. The limitations of scale and space preclude mass tourism. However, the equable climate, compared with inland Spain and northern Europe, can provide for an extended if not year-round tourist season.

Javea enjoys in large measure what can best be described as residential tourism, though further substantial growth in this respect is unsustainable. Quality tourism should be the key focus, refined by professional market surveys.

Sports tourism is likely to generate more visitors than eco-tourism, though both will have only a minor impact on the environment and can be satisfied by the existing supply of rental accommodation. The expansion of golf facilities to provide more public access than the existing private Golf Club would be willing by itself to provide should be an early priority. The various tennis clubs should be assisted to publicize their facilities further afield. An international tennis training school could be considered and encouraged. An autumn or spring boules competition could be an attraction.

Javea lost its cricket ground to housing development in recent years. Another pitch should be offered and visiting teams from the UK encouraged to come and t play here, both before and after their summer season at home.


The international make-up of the current population should be assisted to hold a Festival/Fiesta well away from the dates of existing local fiestas, so that it could attract participation of international groups or acts, rather than compete for space and attention with the local Fiesta as happens currently. Money could be allocated to subsidize active participation rather than be spent on yet another firework extravaganza.

A theatre as well as an auditorium should attract audiences from the surrounding areas, and also widen the range of entertainments on the cultural calendar.

A multiplex cinema would also attract visitors from the surrounding areas, and provide opportunities for showing films in the languages of the diverse population. With due thought, films that have an educational value could be integrated into school schedules.


Compared with current employment opportunities, the income to be gained from agriculture has remained at the poor level where it always was. Orange cultivation has provides marginally better income than vines or almonds, though neither of the latter require irrigation. For those that can forego an annual income from a crop, then the cultivation of palms is an option. With the price of grapes being as low as it is from the Teulada co-operative (less €0,50 a kilo), consideration should be given to setting up a truly cooperative bodega for Javea that would produce and market higher quality wines for consumption by both local inhabitants and the many tourists to the town.

The commercial cultivation of drought resistant local and similar flora could also be encouraged.

Industry and Crafts

Recently, the use rather than waste of the residue from the desalination plant has been proposed. This could provide both local employment if this proves economically feasible and the necessary industrial plants were to be located here. This would also remove any long-term threat to the marine environment, especially if the desalination plant is expanded to provide supplies to adjacent municipalities, fuelled by solar generated power, perhaps?

The provision of workshops for a “craft village” would be an attraction both for artisans and for those who might wish to purchase their wares.


Road improvements have eliminated many local bottlenecks, while the provision of roundabouts continues to ease traffic flow within the municipality.

However, certain plans proposed include the provision for much larger roads and therefore capacity than are warranted by any sustainable expansion in Javea’s population.

Links between adjoining urbanizations should be established to avoid unnecessary and time-consuming journeys.

A link to the A7 autopista has frequently been suggested. Now that the traffic lights on the N332 junction for La Xara have been eliminated, the jouney time towards the A7 access at Ondara has been much improved perhaps obviating the need for an A7 access point near Gata.

Of more local concern would be the coastal traffic bottleneck that is represented by the village Benitachell. Co-operation with that Municipality and that of Teulada could produce solutions of a far more local and regular benefit than any local connection to the A7.

Likewise a connection to the national natural gas network would provide for most Javienses a daily benefit and release from the considerable chore of handling butano bottles.

More contentious but eventually to become an environmental legal requirement, will be the connection of all but the most isolated of individual country homes to a waste water network. The cost of this will be substantial, so how these costs are to be fairly attributed will be a major issue to resolve.

To avoid unfortunate comparisons with third world countries, efforts should be made, if necessary by local legislation, to require both Telefonica and Iberdrola to place their line networks underground.

Public transport within the municipality is very limited in its scope. Reliability and regularity of services are vital. Without such a service, private transport will predominate and place pressure on parking facilities.

Cycle lanes and tracks should be introduced wherever feasible.


The key attractions of Javea are under severe threat from the town’s rapid expansion.

Strict limits need to be placed on future construction.

Quality and residential Tourism should be encouraged to develop throughout the year.

Municipal and private facilities should be designed with this as a clear focus.

Infrastructure and services should also have this also as a clear focus, for the benefit of permanent residents and tourists alike.

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