News Articles

21/04/2011 - Peace by Piece

As reported by Jack Troughton direct from the Auln meeting.

HOMEOWNERS FIGHTING to legalise their properties were told on Wednesday the campaign was like fitting a jigsaw together – and victory would come piece by piece. At a public meeting organised by the AULN – the Costa Blanca protest group based in the tiny village of Lliber – more than 100 residents applauded the promise a new draft general plan aimed to make homes legal.

Mayor Juan Bautista said special plans were being drawn up to allow all illegal properties – even those partially constructed – to be “normalised” and finally be allowed basic utilities like electricity and water.
But Adrian Hobbs, the AULN president, underlined that the problem was bigger than Lliber, where 300 houses were constructed in the “urban crimes” of an alleged 90 million corruption scandal centred in the Marina Alta village.
“Every regional government in Spain has a problem like we have got, up to one million homes could now be illegal – as more stories come out and more people realise things are not correct – effectively, urban law is in disarray.”

Yet, he said, the Spanish government remained in denial and in Andalucia politicians even went as far as blaming “foreigners” for the property problems in the region, while a ‘road show’ visiting the UK promoted Spain as being the place to invest in property because of legal certainty and the transparency of the system.
Adrian said the AULN now had 240 members. “Our objective is to get our houses legalised, nothing more and nothing less.”
He said three years ago residents were in denial, living in a vacuum, and disorganised – but had banded together and begun to fight back, putting pieces in place like a jigsaw.

Adrian said 18 people – including a former mayor, town hall architect, builders and promoters – were facing corruption charges in court after an investigation by the authorities.
He admitted there were some people who did not believe there was a problem and “still worship” their builder, while members of the AULN, friends and neighbours, had faced intimidation as a result of their campaign.

“My rights have already been abused and I will not act like a victim – it was those 18 people that caused the problem, it was not me, it was not the AULN,” he said.
“It was a group of people driven by greed that took our money and illegally built our houses. All I ask is that we take some control back.
“Today we are looking and pushing for the solution because we want a resolution.”
Adrian said for one victim it was already too late as he had just died and it underlined the need for urgency.
He said the AULN acted as a pressure group and collaborated with other groups across Spain and in the UK – lobbying British MPs and MEPs.

And he said the latest political move in Lliber – where northern European expats make up over 60 percent of the population – was forming a Pacto Civil with the PSOE party with independent candidates fighting the coming election both in a bid to integrate and solve the property crisis for residents.
“We represent 60% of the population and therefore we have a fair argument we need to be front in the driving seat, not in the boot as spare passengers,” said Adrian

He said entering the democratic process was “all part of the jigsaw, to get the result we want. What is the result? Legal houses.”
Mayor Juan Bautista said the solution was in the drawing up of a new general plan for Lliber, mapping out the future of its growth.
“We will have to reclassify land, this means drawing up special plans to allow sustainable growth and legalise properties already built – but not to build anymore,” he said.

“We must not allow anymore properties to be built – one of the most important things about Lliber is natural beauty of the countryside.”
He said the owners of illegal properties “were not to blame” for the situation and work was progressing to insure those “cheated” suffered as little as possible.
And he confirmed that partially built houses would be allowed to be finished under the special plans.

It was estimated the solution could take between two and four years to implement – if the current town hall team was returned to office.
As Adrian added to the mayor’s view. “If it goes to a new government we could be starting again. It is a jigsaw and it is your choice but we want to get this thing to the end as soon as we possibly can.”