Foreigners who bought property in Southern Spain include many victims of urban planning scandals, bureaucratic failure, and travesties of justice, which helps explain why the Abusos Urbanísticos Andalucía No (AUAN) association is expanding from Andalusia into Murcia to support property owners there struggling with familiar problems.
Abusos Urbanísticos No (which translate something like ‘Say No to Urban Planning Abuse’) was originally set up in the Valencian Community region by activists Enrique Climent and Charles Svoboda to fight the venal scandals of the so-called Valencian Land Grab, amongst many other problems with disastrous consequences for foreign investors, including real estate corruption.
As real estate corruption and town-planning dysfunction is also a massive problem in Andalusia, a sister association Abusos Urbanísticos Andalucía No (AUAN) was set up to fight for victims of urban planning scandals in Andalusia back in 2006 by Brit Bob Preston and others with a focus on the Almanzora region, where thousands of foreign owners are trapped in illegally-built properties.
Through dogged determination and persistence dealing with the worst of Spain’s bureaucracy and politics, the AUAN has had some success in publicising the unjust plight of urban planning victims in the region, and getting local politicians to listen to them. They may even have helped bring about the recent Andalusian planning amnesty for illegally-built rural homes that will be a God-send for many trapped expats if it is not blocked by the central government in Madrid.
Opening up a new front in the fight against town planning abuse in Murcia
After the successes achieved in Andalusia through changes in various laws to help resolve the problem of illegal houses in that autonomous region, the AUAN association in Andalusia has announced plans to expand into the neighbouring region of Murcia.
“People think that there are no planning issues in Murcia, but I know very well that there is a lack of knowledge that these problems exist,” says Gerardo Vazquez, lawyer and spokesperson for AUAN and the National Pro-Justice in Planning group (CAJU). “This is not the first time that we have gone to Murcia to try to help those affected by planning abuses. For example, there are serious problems that have gone on for years in the Camposol urbanisation in Mazarrón. We have also established contact with those affected in the neighbourhood of Gea y Truyols, in Murcia city. And I believe that we will have to return to them and other locations more often”.
Maura Hillen, president of AUAN, explains the plan. “We have advised those affected that they should create a sister association to ours, and I am delighted to announce that it has now been created. It is called ‘Abusos Urbanísticos No Murcia’ AUN-Murcia. We will soon help them to organise a public meeting to coordinate efforts. Our intention is to do the same that has been done in Andalusia, that is to say to work with the administration and the political parties in a constructive and friendly way to look for basic and rapid solutions for the thousands of people affected by planning issues that exist in Murcia. We will be asking for a meeting with the government of the Region of Murcia, as well as all the parliamentary groups in the regional assembly of Murcia to discuss what is lacking and what can be done”.
The aptly named Linda House is the first president of AUN-Murcia. “I am very excited with this step,” she says. “I believe that unity is strength and that AUN-Murcia can help many people who have spent years going around in circles without solutions. I am very grateful for the help of AUAN and CAJU in all this. It is a good start and we are going to advance with haste, but without pause”.