An open letter to Mr. Zapatero – Trampolin Hills fiasco

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      Dear Mr. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero,

      We understand that improving Spain’s economy is proving difficult. We are very sorry about that, but not surprised.

      We feel it is necessary to draw your attention to a case which no doubt is keeping European citizens of all nationalities from buying off-plan property anywhere in Spain, and will continue to do so if it is not dealt with in a just and appropriate manner.

      The following is a brief summary of what has happened so far, affecting some 2000 families; the buyers of properties at Trampolin Hills, Campos del Rio, Murcia.


      November: The reclassification of over 1 200 000 m2 of land is applied for in Campos del Rio, Murcia; a low-populated inland municipality with just over 2000 inhabitants in an area of 47.29 km2.


      January: The company Trampolín Hills Golf Resort S.L. is formed.

      May: An official agreement to allow for the building of 2200 homes surrounding a golf course is approved by the local authorities

      June: A publicity campaign launched by the company leads to the first off-plan sales contracts in phase I of the resort, planned to be finished in 2008. During the next 2 years, most of the planned homes, between 1500 and 2000, are sold to buyers from different parts of Europe, each paying significant deposits of up to 100 000 € pr. home. A total of some 50 000 000 € is paid as deposits.


      July: A modification of the agreement is approved by the local authorities, against the protests of the opposition, who claim they have appealed the initial approval.


      September: The opposition denies the mayor his right to vote regarding the approval of the project, because of his dealings with the company as an estate agent.


      January: The Mayor of Campos del Rio, Miguel Navarro, publicly begs the opposition to vote in favour of the project. He insists it is of great benefit for the community and that the opposition have not given any reasons for their disapproval.

      April: The opposition, led by Miguel Buendía, denounces the mayor and his party for deliberately delaying the procedures, awaiting the mayor’s right to vote, which will be renewed 2 years after his last dealings with the company.

      May: A court decision by Judge José Miñarro García suggests the municipality is liable to pay the buyers sums equivalent of their deposits, as well as compensate the company, because of the delays.

      June: The first complaints from buyers whose homes should have been finished reach the courts.

      October: Local authorities decide in favour of the mayor’s right to vote.

      November: The Trampolin Company denounces the mayor and other officials because of the delays.


      January: The local authorities approve the project.

      February: The Community of Murcia approves the project, on conditions that a series of modifications are made. The following months, the project is sent back and forth between offices to have the modifications obtained and approved.

      November: A court (Juzgado de lo Mercantil 2 de Murcia) declares the necessary bankruptcy proceedings (Concurso Ordinario 20/09) of the Trampolin company, apparently based on a 30 000 € debt to another company.

      December: Some of the buyers are notified by mail that they should present their contracts to be admitted as creditors, after the deadline has expired. The mayor appears in public at a gathering of buyers and media, promising the approval of the reclassification of the land the following month.


      March: The official agreement approved in May 2005 is declared null and void by a judge as a response to the appeal by the opposition on the approval. The full circle has been made and we seem to be back to square one on this issue.

      A report issued by the Bankruptcy Trustees estimates the value of the Trampolin Hills land to be more than 69 million €, despite the recent court ruling. This report is challenged by 47 of the creditors.

      This summary shows that Spanish authorities so far have been sitting comfortably back watching buyers despair while a small handful of local politicians let their concerns for their own personal rivalries and benefits completely overshadow their concerns for the thousands of individuals seriously affected by their decisions, including the families who are still waiting for their homes as well as those who have lost their jobs. We, the buyers have deposited our hard earned life savings in Campos del Rio along with our trust in Spain as a modern EU country which takes her obligations towards the buyers seriously.

      You are in a position to advise the authorities of Murcia, since this case is causing a negative effect reaching far beyond Murcia. If the loss of buyer’s deposits is not prevented, European citizens will understand quite plainly that buying property in Spain is equal to putting their entire savings at great risk, which, of course, nobody is willing to do. Please do not underestimate the importance of European citizens for Spain´s economy.

      Whether or not Spain can hope for an improvement in the real estate and building sectors some time in the future depends on how this issue is dealt with now. The first step to improving Spain’s economy is showing it is safe to buy property in Spain. We are still waiting for our homes. If they can not be built, we would like a full refund of our deposits, so we can buy elsewhere.

      Wishing you a very happy and prosperous 2011,

      a buyer of property at Trampolin Hills

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