Demolishing a legacy on the beach

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Knocking down of illegal building said to signal end of an era in Estepona

7 February 2008

MARBELLA - Demolitions don't have to be sad occasions. The municipal government team led by Antonio Barrientos of the Socialist Party (PSOE) were in a festive mood Monday as demolition began on a large illegal building on the beach front in the town of Estepona, on the south coast. Construction work on it had been halted since 2003, due to the fact it infringes on the shoreline, and it is considerably higher than the law permits, creating a visual barrier behind La Raya beach, the most popular in the area.

"This is a big day. It puts an end to the last vestiges of the GIL era in Estepona," said Barrientos at the event.

The GIL he referred to was the Independent Liberal Group, a populist party whose name (with jocular intent) coincided with that of Jesús Gil, the politician who led it. The GIL party fell into decline after Gil's second imprisonment for crooked practices in 1999, but during the 1990s he and his party governed Marbella and several other municipalities in the Costa del Sol region. During that period property developments of dubious legality flourished along this stretch of the coast.

Now City Hall has reached an agreement with the development firm Prasa, which will receive compensation for its losses in the form of an increased height limitation for a new building, while the Environment Ministry will pick up the EUR 1.2-million bill for demolition of the existing one.

The work began about noon, when a machine with large hydraulic claws began to bite away at the frame of the seven-floor structure. Another two machines will be arriving in a few days, and the task is expected to take about two months, including clearance of rubble and recycling of parts of the structure.

The new building planned for the site will have a total floor area of 7,000 square metres instead of 20,000, within a two-storey height limitation. The agreement, signed on 20 November, compensates the construction firm Prasa for the demolition at La Rada and for losses incurred in the lengthy legal proceedings. In exchange, the firm is given a permit to build an extra 25,000 square metres on beach front land at Arroyo Antón, just outside the town.

"This is a solution which, from a visual and aesthetic point of view, conserves the traditional low skyline of Estepona, allowing you to see the lighthouse from La Raya beach. The other building blocked it entirely," said planning councillor Rafael Duarte.

[Copyright EL PAÍS / JUAN VIÚDEZ 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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