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10/12/2010 - Regional govt plans to come down heavy on illegal builds

Penal code amendments get firm on mayors that "look the other way" regarding building corruption.


Around 1,500 properties in the Valencia Region are set to be demolished as the regional government plans to come down heavily on illegal construction.


Illegal homes that have been built on protected land that is not classified as being for development face the prospect of being razed to the ground in the new year. The government is bringing in a reform to the penal code that will see town halls and individuals held responsible for their building.


Owners of the 1,500 homes being targeted by regional government have been told the buildings must come down and the site restored to its original state. Failure to so so will result in fines ranging from 600 to 3,000 euros a month for a maximum of 10 months if the owner does not comply with the demolition order. The reform to the penal code will also see town hall officials who in the past have turned a blind eye to illegal building brought to book.


That is to say where a town hall official knowingly approved an illegal build or failed to carry out the appropriate checks he or she will be charged and could face a prison sentence of between 1.5 to four years and be banned from working in public office. Homes built illegally outside of protected areas will become legal if they have been standing for four years or more.


Areas in the Valencian Region where uncontrolled illegal building has been allowed to take place include Catral, Lliber, Monserrat, Montroy, Orihuela and Liria.


In the case of Catral and Lliber it is very clear that the town halls failed to carry out the appropriate checks when building was taking place. Many believe that certain officials worked hand in hand with builders and allowed the construction of hundreds of homes, most of which were sold to foreigners.


What they did not plan on was action from the authorities, which in the case of Catral saw the council forced to hand over control of urban development to regional government. In the case of Lliber, a former mayor, builders and lawyers have been arrested by the Guardia Civil on charges of corruption.


In both cases the owners of the illegal properties have been left in legal limbo and still face the threat of having their homes demolished.


Source Costa Blanca news -Tom Cain