What has happened in Spain? The real estate bubble, corruption and housing development: A view from the local level Articles uri icon



publication date

  • October 2017

start page

  • 206

end page

  • 213


  • 85

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0016-7185

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1872-9398


  • How have the recent real estate, mortgage and financial crises affected different countries, territories and cities? How have the different public and private stakeholders behaved and how accountable have they been for the origin and development thereof? What links are there among the local, national and global contexts in the crises? Recent geographic research ought to attempt to answer these questions, but there have, however, been few in-depth studies on the link between urbanisation, financial markets and the global crisis. The present paper analyses one of the principal causes of Spain's recent evolution: urbanisation of the territory, the start and consequences of housing bubble; our study emphasises the differential elements in relation to the crisis in other countries. We study in greater depth the municipality of Torrelodones, which constitutes a reference due to the appearance of a residents' movement opposed to the development process and which is a perfect example of the dynamics that led to the economic and social crisis. We describe in detail the lack of any strategic vision, participation or transparency in town planning decision-making, the processes by which reports and inspections were doctored, and the mechanisms of corruption of public decision-making in town planning. Finally, we analyse the concrete manner in which huge losses in mortgage markets occurred, with the collapse of the real estate bubble and the financial markets, which subsequently forced a State bailout.


  • spanish housing bubble; recession; political corruption; town planning; spain