“Los Cerros aims to be a green, inclusive, and integrated city”

Marcos Sánchez Foncueva, gerente Junta de Compensación Los Cerros

“Los Cerros aims to be a green, inclusive, and integrated city”

Los Cerros, in the southeast area of Madrid, promises to be one of the most emblematic urban developments. Comprising 14,276 homes, 550,650 square meters of tertiary and commercial land, and 170 hectares of green areas, it will surpass the current capital’s great lung, El Retiro Park. Marcos Sánchez Foncueva, manager of the Los Cerros Compensation Board and urban planning expert, gives us details about the project in this interview. Additionally, as the head of the Urbanism Committee of the Madrid business association Madrid Foro Empresarial, he shares his views on current issues in the sector, such as the housing price problem in the capital and trends advocating for the “15-minute city.”

Los Cerros is positioned as the greenest neighborhood in Madrid. How has this urban development been designed from a sustainability perspective?

As the core objective of our work, in Los Cerros, we prioritize the efficient use of land and the integration of green spaces into the urban fabric. We aim to continue green areas from the road network towards larger spaces, connecting with the future Metropolitan Forest.

In its original conception, Los Cerros presents itself as a green, inclusive, and integrated city. We are the southeast area with the highest number of public green spaces in the capital relative to the ordered surface: 170 hectares of nature. We will enhance existing green spaces like Cerro de la Herradura and Vega del Río Jarama, preserving and promoting the biodiversity of the area.

Furthermore, this commitment to sustainability is guaranteed by planting more than 7,000 trees, over 100,000 shrubs and native species, and, something we consider extremely important, reforesting more than 2,500 trees.

Another key element for creating this sustainable neighborhood is citizen participation. Involving civil society in the urban process helps us multiply the relevance of establishing public-private collaboration strategies in urban planning and sustainability through urban management directed at citizens.

I must highlight the low land occupation in our intervention area; only 12% of its total surface will be built upon. The combination of this with Los Cerros’ privileged location and a unique landscape makes nature and the city come together to create a very distinctive project, the city of the 21st century.

It also promises to be a large residential center in the capital. What are the dimensions of this project?

Los Cerros belongs to the Vicálvaro district. It covers 4.7 million square meters where we are creating a city and developing infrastructure to provide services to 14,276 homes, of which 50% will have some form of protection. These homes are complemented by 550,650 square meters of tertiary and commercial land and 170 hectares of green areas, surpassing El Retiro Park, which has 118 hectares.

Regarding its location, it borders to the north with the municipalities of Coslada and San Fernando de Henares, to the south with the R3 toll highway, to the west with El Cañaveral, and to the east with the protected area of Cerro de la Herradura.

In which phase is the project currently? When is the delivery of the first homes expected?

Currently, we are executing the urbanization works for the first of the three stages planned in the project, with a total estimated investment of over 3 billion euros and the creation of 15,000 jobs.

We are also implementing new procedures for the reconciliation of construction and heritage, becoming a reference in this regard as well, through an integrated compatibility concerning urbanization work that includes the research and knowledge of our archaeological heritage, with firm and decisive support from the property and the Community of Madrid.

“Los Cerros will bring a total of 14,270 homes to the market to be built in the coming years.”

We are making steady progress with the City Council on the replanning project, which is in process. If everything goes well, we expect the public information for this management tool to be available shortly. Its final approval will allow us to request the simultaneity of the works and begin construction. According to this, the keys to the first homes can be handed over before the end of 2026.

How do these types of developments contribute to reducing the pressure on the residential market in the capital?

According to INE data, for the third consecutive year, 430,000 people have entered Spain, of which more than 120,000 want to reside in Madrid. This is a compelling reason for the city of Madrid to favor the generation of urban developments like Los Cerros, which will accommodate a substantial part of that demand.

Los Cerros will bring a total of 14,270 homes to the market to be built in the coming years, positioning us as an excellent opportunity to contribute substantially to access to housing and as an instrument promoting greater balance in real estate market prices, generating new affordable and quality housing supply.

In this sense, it is worth noting that a significant percentage, 50%, of the total housing stock will have some form of protection. In our area, as in the rest of the southeast developments, the combination of free-market housing with protected housing will help ensure the availability of affordable and quality housing.

We aim to attract both young populations and families seeking high-quality homes in a sustainable and healthy environment, as well as an older population, through a differentiated urban design that is integrated into the new developments in the southeast and the urban fabric of the city of Madrid.

And what role are Compensation Boards playing in the management and creation of cities?

Spain has one of the most outstanding and internationally imitated figures in its legal heritage: Compensation Boards. These entities are best suited to carry out a sustained and sustainable transformation of the city, especially since their effective professionalization in the first two decades of the 21st century. They best embody the foundations of an effective and productive public-private collaboration in our system.

In addition to your role leading the Los Cerros Compensation Board, you also lead the Urbanism Committee of the Madrid business association Madrid Foro Empresarial. What was its mission when it was created, and what goals does it pursue today?

Madrid Foro Empresarial is undoubtedly an extraordinary tool created with the essential mission of improving the city of Madrid in all possible areas. Being a business organization that does not depend on public funds, subsidies, or assistance from any administration, relying solely on its own financial resources and the efforts of the entrepreneurs who are part of the institution, Madrid Foro Empresarial has the unique advantage of defending its associates, their ideas, and concerns, with complete freedom.

What types of companies are represented in this committee, and why is it important for them to be part of organizations like Madrid Foro Empresarial (MFE)?

These are mostly small and medium-sized companies, although some of the large corporations in the sector are also part of the Urbanism Committee. We deal with all matters related to Madrid’s real estate and urban planning sector. From the Committee, we coordinate actions, receiving concerns and proposals not only from companies or entrepreneurs related to real estate in Madrid but also from all MFE members, regardless of their business activities. This cross-cutting approach gives us a global view of the problems posed by the city and forms a knowledge and information base that facilitates the presentation of solutions and alternatives to municipal and regional administrations.

The price of housing in Madrid seems to never stop rising, and access to housing, whether through purchase or rental, is becoming increasingly difficult. How could we solve this problem?


I mentioned before, I understand that the land factor is crucial. Without the necessary planning that makes possible the fluid generation of the raw material, land on which new homes are built, demand will continue to outstrip supply, making it very challenging to correct upward trends in prices.

Access to housing is especially critical among young people, and policies aimed at facilitating their access to affordable housing, in any regime or modality, should be implemented. This can be achieved through framework agreements between administrations and financial institutions, as well as through fiscal policies that alleviate the situation of population segments most affected by difficulties in accessing affordable housing.

“Capping rental prices, no matter what formula is used, is not an effective political strategy.”

Subsidies, as repeatedly proven, do not solve anything. The review of the price of protected housing, which is in process in the Community of Madrid, is important. I know that the vast majority of developers would be comfortable bringing protected housing to the market, but this comfort necessarily depends on the starting circumstance that the construction of these homes does not entail losses for them.

By the way, capping rental prices, no matter what formula is used, is not an effective political strategy, as repeatedly demonstrated whenever it has been attempted. At best, it will hinder access to housing for thousands of people who want or need to resort to renting, discouraging small property owners who intend to leverage their property by obtaining rental income. At worst, it will gradually exacerbate the problem of housing prices in any of its modalities. The law of supply and demand works in both directions.

The concept of the “15-minute city” is generating a great deal of controversy. What is your opinion as an urban planning expert?

The 15-minute city is one of the greatest challenges that professionals in the sector face. Indeed, reorganizing urban planning to ensure that all citizens have access to most of their basic needs within a 15-minute radius poses multiple difficulties. Proximity, to reduce travel times, diversity and mix of land uses in urban developments, to ensure coverage of essential services for citizens, the provision of infrastructure promoting sustainable mobility, to reduce traffic congestion and encourage a healthier lifestyle, and improved accessibility allowing smooth communication to any part of the city should be the pillars supporting this concept.

I am, of course, among the advocates of the 15-minute city, but not at all costs. Let me explain; not only is the mix of uses necessary or the improvement of pedestrian accessibility or the implementation of soft mobility in new developments. Once again, achieving this goal requires strategic and combined urban actions of profound depth.

That a resident of Los Cerros has access to essential services should never imply that the urban fabric in which it is located does not allow for longer-distance travel by car or public transport. That would, in some way, curtail their freedom of choice.

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