5,000 ‘illegal’ Marbella homes face the bulldozer
25 November 2005
MADRID — More than a third of the houses in Marbella bought by Britons and other buyers are not legal, and up to 5,000 holiday apartments and villas face being bulldozed.
*sidebar1*The full extent of the chaos in the Spanish resort, where developers and the town hall have pushed through a thousand building licences in recent years, since challenged by higher authorities, has been revealed by a new municipal plan aimed at sorting out the mess, The Guardian reported.
Of the 80,000 homes in the popular southern town where cranes still dominate the skyline, only 50,000 are declared properly legal.
The remainder, mostly built or begun when the populist mayor Jesús Gil was running Marbella in the 1990s, were wrongly given licences, say Andalucia’s regional authorities.
The licences were given to homes as well as complexes of apartments or villas. The town hall thinks it can now save 25,000 of the homes, but the fate of the remaining 5,000 lies with the courts.
These buildings include those in areas allegedly susceptible to flash flooding.
The planning mess in Marbella comes as a decade-long building boom along the Spanish costas shows little sign of drying up.
British buyers are among those who have fed the boom, with Barclays bank recently estimating that a million Britons were planning to buy property in Spain.
Buyers often have little idea about local planning rules and rely on the vendors to give them legal advice.
About 300,000 British people are estimated to live most of the year on the Costa del Sol, though only a minority are formally registered as residents.
Spanish courts have ordered the demolition of buildings in the past, though a Marbella town hall source said this happened rarely.
Town councillors have expressed concern that they may end up with a huge bill for compensating people whose homes are demolished.
Marbella’s mayor, Marisol Yagüe, has said she does not want any buildings bulldozed, but council sources said they could not be responsible for saving everything.
The new plan still requires approval from regional authorities. It aims to ensure that future building, in a boom town which plans to double in size over the next 15 years, is properly legal.
Local lawyers yesterday suggested home owners waited to see if their properties were on the list of 5,000 before worrying.
The uncontrolled growth of Marbella was overseen by Gil, the mayor and property developer famed for his fisticuffs, crude language and ability to mix personal interests with those of the town.
He was jailed after a hotel he built collapsed, killing 58 insurance agents.
Subject: Spanish news