The Minister for Housing and Planning, Josefina Cruz, met with the Mayors of ten municipalities in the Valley of Almanzora in Almeria on Thursday to deliver the results of the Inspection of houses constructed on land not zoned for building in Albánchez, Albox, Arboleas, Cantoria, Fines, Líjar, Lubrín, Oria, Partaloa and Zurgena.
The Minister revealed that 12, 697 ‘irregular’ constructions had been identified in the AlmanzoraValley alone.
Of those some 7.2% or 920 buildings have been found on specially protected land or are less than 4 years old or are incomplete. In these three cases the offence is not proscribed by law and the ministry has instructed the councils to ‘restore order’ as a priority.
As for the remaining 11,777 houses Sra. Cruz went on to state that her ministry was working on a special ‘decreto’ or decree to define a uniform set of procedures which would allow these houses to be granted an occupation license and obtain access to services in a manner described as ‘self-sufficient’ making it clear that public funds will not be used to resolve the situation.
Speaking about illegal houses in Almeria in a hearing of the planning commission of the Andalucian Parliament on Wednesday, the Minister is reported to have said “people from other countries had set up home in an illegal way” and now “residents want us to solve a problem that some of them have created”.
“12,697 illegal buildings in the AlmanzoraValley and nobody noticed?” said Maura Hillen, president of Abusos Urbanisticos Almanzora NO (AUAN), a homeowners association composed mainly of British residents . “Did these houses pop up like mushrooms overnight? Where was the Junta when the houses were being built? “
“And how many people will be made homeless and/or lose their life savings if 920 houses are demolished to ‘restore order’?” she continued “A conservative calculation would put the financial losses in the order of 90 million euros. Who’s going to compensate those who bought in good faith? The Junta? The town halls? “
Commenting on the Ministers announcement of a promised decree Mrs Hillen said “Without seeing the text of this decree, which of course will not be available until after the local elections, it is impossible to say anything meaningful. However, the government has had seven years to deal with this issue and now suddenly two months before an election there is a new decree? The timing is a bit fishy in our view and smacks of electioneering. “
“And what about all the civil and criminal proceedings that are currently in progress and could also result in demolition? How is the decree going to save these houses? As usual there are more questions than answers and more smoke and mirrors that any real change in the Juntas position” she said.
Speaking of the remarks attributed to the Minister by the Spanish press the AUAN president said “If the remarks are accurate, blaming foreign homeowners for the woes of the Andalucian planning system is quite insulting and clearly untrue. Comments such as these, if accurately reported, demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of the realities of the scale of the planning disaster in Andalucia and are hardly designed to encourage much needed British investment in the Andalucian property market”.
"In our view the Ministry of Housing and Planning is like the orchestra on the decks of the Titanic. Fiddling away whilst the ship sinks taking homeowners and what is left of the reputation of the Andalucian property industry with it. Its all a bit of a shambles” she concluded.