40 years of urban planning

What is the Metropolitan General Plan? How has it transformed the metropolis and what urban planning legacy has it left behind to start drafting the Metropolitan Urban Master Plan?

Del PGM al PDU

Del PGM al PDU


The Metropolitan General Plan (PGM) is an urban planning tool that zones uses and urban forms over the metropolitan territory pertaining to the former Barcelona Metropolitan Municipal Corporation (EMMB), which comprised a total of 27 municipalities. Approved by the Province of Barcelona Urban Planning Committee on 14 July 1976, for decades this tool has been implemented by political powers, economic agents and civil society to modernise the metropolis and its complex territorial system, enabling the construction of the city we know today: a metropolis of cities of great importance on the European scale.

More than 40 years and more than 1200 amendments later, the transformative effects of the PGM on the territory can be clearly seen: the area of developed urban land has doubled, new infrastructure has been implemented, and the facilities and services of many neighbourhoods have been significantly improved, among other changes. The PGM has always focused on the occupation of new spaces for urban growth and the implementation of infrastructure and services. Now the city to be addressed by the PDU is already built and accordingly presents new challenges such as urban renewal, reducing inequalities between the various fabrics and improving the biodiversity of the system of open spaces (more than 52% of the territory).

The urban development culture engendered by the PGM has made significant contributions to the territory and its citizens, but today's urban, environmental, social and economic needs and the technological demands of modern life call for its redefinition. The complexity of urban processes interrelated within a metropolitan ecosystem needs to be addressed by urban planning initiatives in a comprehensive, strategic and cross-cutting manner.



The motorways that started to be built in the early 1970s have been completed. Barcelona's new ring roads, which were constructed in 1992, have profoundly affected how the metropolitan city is used, while bypasses and major thoroughfares provide new connections to the various cities.

The railway lines have not moved, but an additional line in the Vallès has been created for goods and although high-speed rail has arrived it still needs a major station to handle it. The metro network has been extended in the centre, redressing the enormous deficits in this area.

Meanwhile trams have been reintroduced into the network as feeder lines. Bicycle lanes are providing a new means of getting around the city and they are also present in natural areas for recreational use.

With its overhauled network of sewers and treatment plants, the metropolitan metabolism has focussed on reliability through the addition of new incineration, energy generation and waste management plants.

Major infrastructure:

Major constructions and new metropolitan districts mark the metropolis. The port and the airport have continued to grow. New industrial estates have helped improve many working-class neighbourhoods in successive major transformations of the production system. New squares and avenues provide the setting for tertiary activities in the various municipalities.


In urban centres, streets and avenues have been systematically domesticated and urbanised, their pavements have been widened and their number of urban trees has been increased. Where necessary, false tunnels have been created to conserve the environmental conditions of overly-exposed neighbourhoods.

New neighbourhoods have grown in cities through the addition of parks and services, while the fabrics in central areas have been transformed and densified. The number of green spaces and their corresponding facilities has been increased everywhere.

The central city has consolidated its growth and continues to be the beating heart of the immense organism known as Barcelona.

Open spaces:

The forest reserve in Collserola Natural Park and the agricultural areas of the Llobregat Delta have been left untouched by the hand of development. The beaches have been revived and the river beds, starting with the Besòs, have been invigorated and opened up for public use.