Location: Barcelona, Spain
City population: 3,186,049
Project duration: 2012 - ongoing
Project cost: Not applicable
Financing source(s): Public local authority's budget, Crowd-sourcing

Social urban gardens of “Pla Buits” (Vacant Lots Plan)

PLA BUITS (Urban Vacant Lots with Territorial and Social Involvement)

This is a co-management initiative fostered by the City Council of Barcelona that aims to involve civil society in defining, installing and managing unused spaces across all districts of the city. The city council provides temporary use for public entities or non-profit associations to develop temporary uses and activities (from one year to three renewable years) in order to promote social activism and cohesion in the neighborhood. Most part of activities are social urban gardens (1).

Urban setting

  • Allotments and community gardens
    • Community gardens
  • Derelict areas
    • Abandoned and derelict spaces with growth of wilderness or green features

Key challenges

  • Green space, habitats and biodiversity (SDG 15)
  • Environmental quality, including air quality and waste management
  • Regeneration, land-use and urban development
  • Inclusive and effective governance (SDG 16)
  • Social justice, cohesion and equity (SDG 10)
  • Health and well-being (SDG 3)

Main beneficiaries

  • Local government/Municipality
  • Citizens or community groups
Project objectives
The Municipal Plan for Urban Emptiness with Territorial and Social Implications (BUITS Plan) aims to stimulate disused land in the city of Barcelona, ​​through activities of public interest of a provisional nature, driven by public or private entities without a spirit Of profit, favoring the involvement of civil society in the regeneration and dynamization of the urban fabric (4). - Fill out spaces in disuse; - Promote the involvement of civil society in the reinvention of unused land; - Regenerate the urban fabric and induce social dynamism in the environment; - improve the quality of life of people (7).
Implementation activities
compared with the stand-alone operations implemented previously, the Pla Buits adopts a very different approach: it invites outside organisations to find specific solutions for individual cases. At the centre of this plan, drawn up by Barcelona’s urban planning department (Hàbitat Urbà), is an open competition, launched between 1 November 2012 and 1 February 2013, for the opportunity to temporarily – for a period of between one and three years – manage one of 19 vacant urban lots in the public domain that were originally earmarked for housing, public amenities, streets or green spaces in the local area master plan (the Pla General Metropolità of 1976). These vacant lots are distributed evenly among the city’s 10 districts. Pla BUITS transferred rights to local communities so they could develop emergent actions in tactical urbanism at fifty different empty spaces across the city (3).

Type of initiating organisation

  • Local government / municipality
  • Citizens or Community groups

Management set-up

Co-governance or hybrid governance (mix of responsibilities between government and non-government actors)

Participatory approaches/ community involvement

  • Co-planning
  • Dissemination of information and education
  • Joint implementation (e.g. tree planting)
  • Co-management/Joint management
Details on the roles of the organisations involved in the project
The city council plays an exclusively managerial role. It is not a question of asking residents what they want, but rather of encouraging residents to take action themselves (1). Entities involved: CAB, FAVB, Third Sector Entities Board, FAD, AMPA's Federation (10).
Project implemented in response to ...
... an EU policy or strategy? Unknown
... a national policy or strategy? Yes
The competition and the subsequent qualifying titles are subject to Decree 336/1988, of October 17 (Regulation of heritage of local entities). In case of doubts or legal loopholes in the previous section, the Royal will apply Legislative Decree 3/2011, of November 14 (Revised Text of the Public Sector Contracts Law) (11).
... a local policy or strategy? Yes
The initiative is part of the City of Barcelona strategy to find alternative uses for derelict places (2, 3 and 4).
Expected impacts
  • Green space, habitats and biodiversity (SDG 15)
  • Environmental quality, including air quality and waste management
  • Inclusive and effective governance (SDG 16)
  • Social justice, cohesion and equity (SDG 10)
  • Health and well-being (SDG 3)
  • Economic development and decent employment (SDG 8)
  • Sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12)
Details on impacts and indicators used Urban allotments offer logistical advantages and seem to be well suited to the interests of the city council: they require little in the way of roadways and represent savings for municipal maintenance departments. Furthermore, allotments are spaces that are closed off with residents’ consent; as they remain available only to those users who contribute to their upkeep, the result is the regulated appropriation of a previously abandoned space. They chime with the city’s ongoing desire to encourage urban agriculture through the “Xarxa d’Horts Urbans de Barcelona” (“Barcelona Urban Allotments Network”). By improving local quality of life and meeting a need for outdoor leisure activities, allotments boast both social and ecological qualities. Urban agriculture is perceived as an activity that has positive effects for those that practice it and which promotes environmental values associated with preserving and highlighting nature (1).

Presence of formal monitoring system


Presence of indicators used in reporting


Presence of monitoring/ evaluation reports


Availability of a web-based monitoring tool



Disclaimer: The data collection was carried out between June and August 2017, the information presented has not been updated afterwards.