News Articles



08/11/2009 - Light at the end of Catral's Tunnel....at a price!



Written by : Louise Clarke    Round Town News


After years of campaigning by Catral residents to get their homes legalised, it seems that, at last, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The Town Hall in Catral will soon be reclassifying and therefore legalising the pockets of land which are classed as rustic. Over 1300 homes in Catral alone have been affected by this ‘illegal’ homes situation, where builders and developers built properties on rustic land and built houses on plots less than the required 10,000 square metres. As a result, homes were deemed illegal, habitation certificates were never issued and hundreds of home owners were left with houses that they couldn’t sell, not to mention without the basic utilities. Now, after many petitions, meetings, the ousting of the previous Mayor, which resulted in the Valencian government taking over the town briefly, as well as a trip to the European parliament in Brussels, which was exclusively covered by Round Town News, the affected homes will soon become legal and habitation certificates will be issued.                                       
 

Good Faith
Sadly, this will not happen without cost and after initial estimates and many rumours, the Town Hall has decided that every municipal home owner must pay 1% of the valuation of their house to the Town Hall to pay for the required infrastructure which is needed to make the land urban. Obviously, this has caused furore amongst some residents, but the Town Hall insisted that this was the fairest way to do it. In an exclusive interview with the Catral Mayor, Aurelio Albero Garcia and Councillor for Urbanism, Antonio Bellido, Round Town News was told that the Town Hall had pondered over the question of charges for many months and as much as they don’t want to have to implement charges, they will have to. Antonio said: “If we had just charged the affected home owners, this would have been unfair as they all bought in good faith. I appreciate that some of the town’s residents will not be happy about it, but this is Catral’s problem and it must be resolved. It is only fair that the problem is shared.”

 

 

 

Important
When RTN left the meeting, we met two Catral residents who are happy that the situation is being resolved. Pat Bagnall, is Secretary of the Vecinos Colaborando or Neighbours Association. She and her husband have lived in Catral for five years and they are happy to pay the money so that they can secure their property. Pat told RTN: “We have been waiting five years for this and if it means that our property is legalised after we pay this 1%, then we are happy to pay it. This is our home and we love it here.” She did say that it was important that residents are aware that they must all get the forms from the Town Hall as soon as possible as they need to be filled in and sent back by the end of the month. She said: “There is a BANDO, which is an official notification, on the front door of the Town Hall. The forms must be filled in and sent back to them by 30th November and there will be an opportunity to meet Town Hall representatives on 26th November between 8:30 and 11:00 in the Centro Sociocultural.” She added: “It is very important that everybody who is affected does this or the Town Hall has said that an embargo could be placed on your property.”  She concluded: “This is a very positive move on the part of the Catral Town Hall and I, for one, welcome it. A lot of people have their heads in the sand, but they must now realise how important it is to fill these forms in.”

Responsibility and Blame
However, not everyone is happy about the way that the Town Hall has handled the situation. Brent Gardner, President of CACAU, told RTN: “CACAU has not even been informed by the Catral Town Hall of any new process that is to take place. Rumours have been circulating and now of course, we realise that the press and other persons have been informed of this latest development before consulting or even informing the very people that it concerns, i.e. the residents of Catral” He continued: “It would seem that the authorities are completely disregarding the reality of the situation and completely ignoring the fact that they should bare an extremely large proportion of responsibility and blame for allowing and in fact, condoning the illegal practices that have taken place in Catral. If these faceless people had done their jobs correctly, this situation would not and could not have occurred.”  He concluded: “It seems to be a popular opinion that the residents who purchased what they believed and were told are legal properties, have an unlimited supply of money and can just produce what is required at a moments notice; this is an unrealistic and ridiculous notion. As an association, we will endeavour to officially obtain the current information and we will of course be consulting our solicitor to guide us towards any future action and in turn will inform our members of any developments via our newsletters.”