The municipality of Catral, in the Vega Baja region of the Valencian Community (South Costa Blanca) is infamous for its problem with illegally-built homes, 1,300 of which were built and sold to Britons and other foreign buyers between 2000 and 2007. The problem was so bad that 2 years ago Valencia’s regional government suspended Catral’s urban plan as a first step towards sorting out the town’s urban planning chaos. But now, almost 2 years later, the Spanish press reports that no further progress has been made, and owners of illegally built homes remain trapped in legal limbo.
The town hall, now run by the right of centre Popular Party (like the Valencian Government), can at least point to some evidence of an effort to address the problem. Over the last couple of years it has drafted 4 urban plans, 3 of which were rejected, and the latest of which will be considered by the Valencian government this month. The Valencian government, on the other hand, has done nothing other than issue 217 charges for urban planning infractions.
Aurelio David Albero, Catral’s Mayor, is confident that the latest plan will be approved, but has no idea what it will cost.
“Whatever it costs [to legalise homes], our objective is that builders, developers and owners will foot the bill, but not the owners of legal properties, nor the farmers that have kept out of the urbanisation business,” Albero told the Spanish press.
Albero also admits that illegally built homes are a burden on the local economy. “They are owned by residents who don’t pay any taxes, but who enjoy services such as rubbish collection, postal services, health and education, all of which has pushed the town hall into debt of 1.8 million Euros.”
Whatever the final cost of legalising homes in Catral, that end appears as far away today’s as it did 2 years ago.