Skip to content

Property owners facing demolition in Spain take to the streets to protest

In the biggest demonstration by expatriates to date, hundreds of mainly retired British residents from Andalucía, have been waving placards and marching outside the offices of officials they hold responsible for ‘persecuting’ innocent home owners who bought properties in good faith.

The organisers, AULAN, are demanding an end to real estate and planning corruption across the region and an end to the insecurity thousands of owners are feeling as to whether or not they will be affected by the latest round of demolitions.

They are also demanding compensation for Leonard and Helen Prior, both aged 64, whose property was demolished a year ago despite having planning permission from their local town hall. The permission was subsequently declared void and their home declared illegal. They are now living in a garage on the site of their demolished home.

Top of the property owner’s hit list is Luis Caparros, head of planning and housing in Almeria, who has been dubbed ‘Demolition Man’ and ‘Mr Bulldozer’ for his enforcement of the illegal building issue.

He has recently declared a further 5,000 homes in the neighbouring Almanzora valley as illegal and owners are waiting to see if they will be demolished. The problem stems from a two tier planning system in which town halls, which have the authority to issue building licences, failed in many cases to adhere to regulations set by the regional government of Andalusia and allowed construction on designated rural land.

During a decade long construction boom corrupt mayors, often in cahoots with local builders, allowed swathes of countryside to be built over without the proper licences being issued.

Many British buyers unwittingly bought these illegal properties through unscrupulous estate agents and the lawyers recommended by them. They claim they are victims who bought in good faith and should not be penalised in a clamp down by regional authorities.

Those currently in limbo include Thomas and Carole Jones in Albox, some 30 miles from the Mediterranean coast. They face losing the three bedroom villa they bought almost four years ago for €250,000.

A spokesman for the regional council said it was acting correctly within the law. He advised that compensation should be sought from the town halls and mayors who issued the original illegal licences and not the regional council.