Barcelona puts an end to home delivery and banishes ghost kitchens

The pandemic not only shook the hostelry and the tradebut has left many sequels in a matter of consumption habits on which there will be no going back in big cities like Barcelona. Especially in terms of home deliveries, food or products, which have led to new types of business that, due to their novelty, have overwhelmed by municipal regulations. The first consequence will be a special urban plan to put an end to this phenomenon in the city: banishing the ‘dark kitchen’ or macro kitchens only for delivery to industrial areas, prohibiting new super ghost (only for home deliveries) and regulating the delivery operation in the case of restaurants or food outlets prepared.

The new regulation of uses of activities linked to the delivery It has been initially approved this Friday in a government commission, it will be on public display for two months and it could be done effective in one year. When it is implemented, the existing premises affected will have a couple of years to catch up and process authorizations.

It arises in response to neighborhood conflict that was experienced more than a year ago with the opening attempts of macro kitchens in Sant Martí and Les Corts, in the midst of great neighborhood opposition, and which have now been definitively ruled out. But also in view of the acceleration experienced by this type of online and distance consumption due to the pandemic and when all non-essential establishments had to close to the public.

Protect local businesses

The deputy mayor of Urbanism, Janet Sanz, explains that the regulation focuses on “protecting the commercial model of proximity and neighborhood stores and the daily life of the neighbors.” With this challenge, and in the face of the problems attributed to mere delivery kitchens and supermarkets, “opaque” in that only their workers have access, the municipal proposal negotiated with the ERC group It is above all the total prohibition of ghost supermarkets (the current ones, as an unrecognized figure, were still opened as warehouses and will continue their activity) and the limitation of the limitation of macro kitchens to industrial zones with very restrictive conditions.

The city council admits that its irruption caught them without tools to fit these new trends, which still do not have a specific epigraph until the ordinance of activities. But the special plan makes it possible to avoid their proliferation. By ghost kitchens (by the name Anglo-Saxon name) refer to the facilities that “group several industrial kitchens in normally large and opaque spaces only dedicated to placing orders for delivery”, says the city council, which can generate odor and noise problems, in addition to affecting to mobility in the area. In the case of the ‘black stores’ or ghost supermarkets, it is “warehouses store where online purchases are prepared for home delivery”.

The two businesses, propelled by the health crisis, have generated neighborhood rejection for the “very intensive use of public space that is derived”. As if that were not enough, establishments dedicated to receiving and storing merchandise have also sprung up to later sell and distribute them at home, they underline.

The councilor of Trade, Montse Ballarin, argues that the Barcelona model “is based on the physical presence of businesses”, on the social interaction they generate. In addition, they are required to comply with many regulations, so “it could not be that these new spaces took advantage of the lack of regulation”, generating clear competition in terms of schedules and use of public space, with the delivery vehicles that usually invade the sidewalks. The mayor is also critical of the working conditions of delivery men.

Moratorium in force

To begin to channel the phenomenon, a suspension of licenses linked to the ‘dark kitchen’ prior to its regulation was approved a year ago, which is still in force. The proposal of use plan It ranges from new businesses of home orders to the control of existing ones, with the idea of ​​”balancing uses and avoiding the proliferation of certain activities”, underlines Sanz.

The regulation wants prevent its implantation in the neighborhoods, so it shields urban areas. To the point of not admitting those supermarkets or delivery warehouses throughout the city, nor the temporary non-dangerous goods warehouses open to the public to store luggage or packages, which are usually used by tourism.

And the distances will be key. The macrokitchens will have to be located in industrial areas and streets more than 25 meters wide, separated from each other by a radius of 400 meters from each other.

More complex is the operation for establishments of ready meals, so that its growth is controlled. The special plan suggests linking them to “the area of ​​the premises, the density of activities in the same area and the type of soil and the width of the street where they can be located”. Thus, the number of new businesses is limited to just one establishment within a radius of 100 meters, and in addition those of more than 100 square meters may not be on streets less than seven meters wide or exceed 300.

But it also involves existing ones, which will have to internalize some services. The ERC Councilor Jordi Coronas has emphasized that 80% of establishments in the city have less than 150 square meters and will not be affected, beyond formalize an authorization for the complementary activity.

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However, the larger ones will have to meet some requirements, such as having waiting spaces for delivery men and delivery vehicles (non-motorized), facilitating the use of toilets. In macro kitchens, 10 square meters must be reserved per cooking station or for every 100 square meters of surface. On the other hand, in the businesses of prepared dishes of more than one hundred square meters, the meters will be five for every 100 of premises. In restaurants, those with less than 150 square meters located on streets more than seven meters wide that are part of the network of green axes or are priority for pedestrians must reserve three square meters for every 100, compared to five for those over 150.

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