After years of relentless growth in the number of illegally built homes in rural parts of Andalucia, a regional branch of the right-of-centre Popular Party, one of Spain’s two main political parties, has proposed a planning amnesty for an estimated 50,000 illegal properties in Andalucia’s Malaga province.
The Spanish press reports that politicians and local administrations all recognise that finding a solution to the problem of illegal properties cannot be put off any longer, but there is no consensus over what the solution should be.
Whilst the PP proposes an amnesty for 50,000 illegal properties in Malaga province, 8,000 of which are in the Mijas municipality alone, the socialist PSOE party, which controls the Andalucia’s regional government in Seville, opposes any mass legalisation, favouring case by case solutions. But with the threat of demolition hanging over thousands of illegally built properties in Andalucia, the PP argues that a blanket approach to legalising rural properties would avoid “unnecessary demolitions”.
The PP’s proposal comes shortly after Andalucia’s socialist minister for town planning announced, in a meeting of 31 mayors from the Axarquía region (where there are thought to be between 10,000 and 21,500 illegal homes) that planning laws should be rigorously enforced, on a cases by case basis, and with no exceptions made. Implicit in this policy is the mass demolitions of thousands of homes illegally built in rural areas of Andalucia, many of which have been bought by Britons and other foreigners.
Meanwhile, the Grupo Cóndor, an environmental group based in Almeria, has called for “strict compliance of the law”, and urged the Andalucian government to demolish the thousands of illegal properties in Almeria province. A spokesman for the group said that politicians should be forced to compensate home owners “out of their own pockets” and that “the world should know Spain has acted in a filthy way.”
But the problem with demolitions as a solution is that the Government of Andalucia probably can’t afford it. An article at cbnalmeria.com – a local English-language newspaper – points out that demolitions can cost between 30,000 and 36,000 Euros each, which many home owners would never pay, leaving the government to pick up the bill. Furthermore, although home owners are obliged to pay the costs of demolition if their homes are illegal, retired expats on a UK pension below the Spanish minimum wage of 600 Euros a month, who make up a large number of the affected owners, would be exempt for paying the costs.