Carta aberta para as Nações Unidas: MANIFESTO FOR A RESPONSIBLE AND CIVILIZED URBANISM


A Associação SOS Quinta dos Ingleses escreveu uma carta aberta em forma de Manifesto para o Eng.º António Guterres com o intuito de alertar as Nações Unidas para o projeto urbanístico da Quinta dos Ingleses, que não se enquadra nas novas diretrizes desta organização para a criação de cidades mais sustentáveis. Leia abaixo a carta, escrita originalmente em inglês.



His Excellency

The Secretary General of the United Nations

Dr. António Guterres,


Your Excellency,

We are a citizens collective residing in Cascais, Lisbon, a group of volunteers who have

come together to form the pro-association SOS Quinta dos Ingleses.


We reverently submit the reasons that have led us to request Your Excellency’s intervention

knowing your true commitment to the environment and development causes.

We are united in defence of the last remaining vacant land, inhabited by historical woodland,

of the Cascais coastal region, known as “Quinta dos Ingleses” («The English Farm»). An

extensive urban project is planned that will destroy the historical and natural heritage of this

historical farm side by side of the world-famous beach of Carcavelos, irremediably

compromising the environmental sustainability of this area.


Domain of around 52 hectares, the “Quinta dos Ingleses” was established in 1763 by José da

Cruz (1717-1768), chancellor of the exchequer for king José I, in lands neighboring the vast

beach of Carcavelos, in Cascais. It was first named «Quinta Nova de Santo António». In 1870,

it was rented to (and in 1872, acquired by) the British “Falmouth, Gibraltar and Malta Telegraph

Company”, to serve as headquarters and technical services for laying underwater cables to

connect continental Portugal and England, as well as the European continent to Asia and

America, combining British interests in reaching India (via Carcavelos/ vila Real de Santo

António/ Gibraltar), with the Portuguese Government determinations in connecting mainland

Portugal with Madeira and the Azores, as well as Brazil. The “Quinta” has therefore played a

major role in underwater cable telecommunications in Portugal, leading to the establishment of

a small community of British citizens, employed by the British firm, in Carcavelos. Due to this

community’s presence, the former Quinta Nova would thereafter be referred to as “Quinta dos

Ingleses”, the name by which it became known in the area of Cascais.


The “Quinta” was originally designed and planned to contain wind erosion and to positively

deal with excessive temperatures. A small vineyard was planted as well as an intensive and


widespread forestation of the property, both initiatives undertaken to enhance and protect

houses and Cable technical headquarters.


In the 1920s and 1930s, with the global evolution of telecommunications, the “Falmouth,

Gibraltar and Malta Telegraph Company” merged with the Portuguese Marconi and became

“Cable and Wireless Ltd.”. In the late 1950s, foreseeing that there would no longer be an

interest in maintaining a telecommunications station with the size of “Quinta dos Ingleses”, the

owners and their representatives founded the Sociedade Imobiliária de Carcavelos, Lda., in

order to allot and develop some two thirds of the Quinta’s area. This “society”, submitted a

preliminary project which, in a corrected version, was presented to the Cascais town council, in

1959, who forwarded it to the Ministry of Public Works for deliberation.

The ministry responded with two negative decisions, which then took into account the

concerns and interests of the wider community. The then minister, Eduardo Arantes e Oliveira,

considered the Quinta to be «the only important reservation of unoccupied lands in the “Costa

do Sol’s”», stating that its conversion and urbanization should be carefully planned and should

follow strict parameters of «predominantly satisfying public interest needs, inherent to an area

of first-class tourism (...), based on the existing afforestation and the creation of ample

unoccupied space»*


In 1970, Cable and Wireless Ltd. officially closed the Carcavelos underwater cable station,

bringing its collaboration with the Portuguese government, in the mainland, to an end. The

“Quinta dos Ingleses” was taken over by the St. Julian’s School Association (formally

established in 1938) and other institutions, as part of a lending arrangement.


The urbanizing process of the “Quinta” has therefore been polemic and non-consensual from

the beginning. The several projects presented with that aim, in recent years, have gathered

neither consensus nor the necessary approval from national and local authorities. However, in

2014, with Carlos Carreiras leading the town hall executive, the PPERECUS, a controversial

detailed plan for the area, was approved, based on a forced modification of the “Plano Diretor

Municipal de Cascais” - the Municipal Pilot or Master Plan for Urban Development -, on a

controversial meeting that resulted in an extremely narrow result of 19 votes pro and 18 against,

in the midst of intense dispute of the rulings of the Carcavelos local assembly. This plan has

therefore been approved without considering the communities interests and environmental

needs, which always stood in opposition to it. Furthermore, the same plan paved the way for the

allotment of and building in the “Quinta”.


Following the parameters in which it has been conceived and fostered by the mayor of

Cascais, will bring about the destruction of the existing natural environment and unity of the

old farm and woodland, allowing for the building of 850 apartments, in towers with seven and

eight-floor high, plus hotels and commercial areas. In that plan, public green areas will be

reduced to a meager strip of less than 100 000 square meters.


Local residents wholeheartedly reject these policies, with which they do not align nor

comprehend, repeatedly expressing their full disagreement with them. They deeply lament that

an alderman holding direct responsibilities in the administration of land should both consent to

and promote the destruction of historic woodland, an environmental and historical heritage,

acting with flagrant disrespect for those who have repeatedly, and for decades, stood against the

purpose of urban development on this very significant land, and evading his principal role of

managing the public good.

The very thought of allotting and supporting the radical change of such a historic park that

has been an integral part of the community for centuries has been met with indignation and

shock in its flagrant waste of wealth and forest life, not befitting the modern values of today and

our common awareness of the environment preservation and its need for renewing Men with

Earth, intentionally avoiding national and international good practices in soil and climate

preservation.


Your Excellency,


We respectfully appeal that you could help us prevent this massive destruction of the last

green space in the municipality of Cascais.

The United Nations’ General Assembly had established the decade of 2021-2030 as «The

United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration», advocating an active policy of natural

heritage conservation, reforesting and afforestation, especially in highly vulnerable areas as it is

the case of this “Quinta”, in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area. In an age of triple crisis – sanitary,

economic and environmental – the municipality of Cascais would have, in protecting this local

historic and environmental heritage, the perfect opportunity for acting in the right direction,

repairing harmful decisions it has made in the recent past.


Although it may seem insignificant on a global scale, the problematic thoughtless transition

of the “Quinta” soil status with no reasoning of authentic public interest and no perspective of

environmental sustainability, will represent an arbitrary impoverishment of the quality of life of

present and future populations. We believe that these plans of construction will negatively

impact the infrastructure of the community not only for this generation but for our children and

all future generations.


We are very hopeful that Your Excellency can help us save the Quinta and its surrounding

historical woodlands, in the Cascais municipality.

We humbly ask for your intervention in this process, applying all your influence power and

goodwill, in the name of the present and future generations who deserve the right to benefit

from the nature reserve that is “Quinta dos Ingleses”.



* Excerpt of the Ministry of Public Works’ dispatch of 25/11/1960 on the project « Aproveitamento

urbanístico da zona do cabo submarino em Carcavelos», available in the Torre do Tombo archives.