AUAN is pleased to learn that a recent judicial decision appears to provide a glimmer of hope for the owners of illegal houses. The Magistrate of Administrative Court No. 3 in Almeria, Judge Jesus Rivera, made a ruling on the 21st of January in which he rejected the Juntas’ reasons to nullify a licence of first occupation granted by Albox Town council, thus allowing the homeowners to contract water and electricity.
According to the ruling the house was constructed several years ago on non urban land without a building permit and any administrative action against it was proscribed as out of time. After satisfying several requirements, Albox Town council granted a license of first occupation to this property under a special ‘ordenanza’ or regulation which was created specifically to deal with this type of housing classified as ‘fuera de ordenacion’; that is to say constructed without a building permit but untouchable by the administration.
The Junta challenged the license of first occupation on the grounds that there was no building permit for the property and that these houses should be regulated by an urban plan. Alfredo Najas de la Cruz, representing Albox Council and Pedro Maldonado Ruiz acting for the homeowners, argued against the Juntas’ interpretation.
Judge Rivera found that the Juntas argument was erroneous and indicated that the administration “cannot in any way ignore reality” and that it “cannot prevent houses that are fuera de ordenacion from obtaining services which grant them the normal conditions of habitability”. Judge Rivera indicated that if the repair and maintenance of such houses is permitted, common sense dictates that they should also have services, especially when the license of occupation was granted under the strict terms of a special regulation that was not challenged by the Junta when it was created.
Lorenzo Robles, La Voz de Almeria, 25th January 2011-01-25
Yesterday, it became known that a court ruling had upheld the licence of occupation granted by Albox town council to a house situated in a location outside of the town plan, giving the owners the right to contract water and electricity.
The Junta de Andalucia brought this case, the outcome of which represents a setback to its intention to enforce the law. However, they are working on a regional regulation which will ensure that these houses have no legal obstacles to obtain basic services.
At least that is what the Delegate for Public Works and Housing, Jose Manuel Ortiz, said yesterday.
In addition, the representative of the regional administration confirmed that during this week there will be a new meeting with the mayors of Almanzora to continue working on the mechanisms to regularise houses outside of planning.
Only some will NOT be saved
And according to the Junta de Andalucia houses that are situated in areas at risk from flooding or on protected land from an environmental point of view; will continue to be considered illegal and could be demolished on the orders of the court, just as it happened just over 3 years ago to the British couple, the Priors, in Vera. This is the only case in the province of Almeria where a demolition has resulted from non compliance with the planning laws.
To avoid having more cases the Ministry of Public Works and Housing “is working on various regularisation mechanisms, such as town plans (PGOU) and a territorial plan, a planning tool that goes beyond the towns and covers the whole region”.
Jose Manuel Ortiz also referred to the ruling of Judge Rivera and stated “One thing that must be made clear is that the Junta is not persecuting anybody, our only intention is to ensure that the law is obeyed. However, we are looking for formulas such as the planning category of rural habitats, to deliver solutions to the houses. In addition, there are farms where the occupants no longer wish to pursue farming and we must also find solutions for them”.
The representative of the Junta in Almeria went further and referred to a regulation which “will be approved in a few months and will provide a solution for these situations, granting licenses and permits to resolve these situations. The important thing to note is that we are not trying to persecute anybody, we only want to ensure that the law is obeyed and we are working intensively”.