Land Grab

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    • #55861

      Abanilla Full of surprises!
      I was in my front garden de-heading the African daisies when I noticed a Policia Local car pull up outside my gate. Straight away I felt guilty, wondering what had I done. Was it that red light I sort of jumped two weeks ago?
      I spoke to the Police Officer through the gate and noticed that he had a bunch of official looking papers in his hand. I signed for mine and off he went. When I read through the letter (as best as I could) I realised that it was from Abanilla Ajuntamiento and a feeling of dread came over me.
      Where we live is a beautiful spot at the foot of the Sierra de Quibas in the Valle de Quibas. We have a lovely home on a 5000m2 plot with a swimming pool, our dream home. Having had property on an urbanisation we chose this Villa because of the tranquillity of the area (although it is far from any amenities). The builder did as he promised by building large villas on large plots, dotted along the valley. This has had minimum impact on the immediate environment. We have wild boar, with their young, wandering down the Camino as well as foxes, buzzards and several species of snake (mainly harmless thank god!).
      In literature provided by Abanilla Ajuntamiento there is information about the Quibas Paleontological Site. Located in the Sierra de Quibas, It says this site has been declared a Site of Cultural Interest due to its abundant and varied wildlife (more than 60 species of reptiles, mammals. amphibians, birds etc). Due to the antiquity of the site there is also a likelihood of finding prehistoric human remains.
      It was some time ago that we began to hear rumours about an urbanisation proposed in the area, but it wasn’t until we received the official notification from Abanilla Ajuntamiento that it hit home. “Ah well” we thought, “We must not stand in the way of progress. Inward investment is good and it will bring employment and benefit to the region”.
      Then I thought “well it’s the same builders who built our house and the 20 or so others in the valley, all detached Villa’s like us on big plots. He is a small builder, who normally builds one at a time. Who is going to benefit from this 50,000,000e building project?”
      Certainly the Abanilla Ajuntamiento, with building licenses etc and the eventual council tax they will collect.
      But is anybody else in the Region going to benefit?
      What about the workers, the men who build the houses? Yes, but they are mainly of South American origin and on a minimum wage. They can’t even afford to have breakfast in the one local bar and bring their own sandwiches! Also they live in Alicante region where they spend their wages, so no benefit there. Well look at all those building materials, surely Abanilla will benefit from that. No, they come from Aspe where the builders’ account is.
      Ah, the directors 10,000,000e profit they stand to make. Where is that going to be spent? Well, one director lives on the coast, the other two in Elche, all Alicante regions, so no benefit there.
      I was getting more and more depressed trying to find a benefit for the Abanilla region that I have lived and paid my taxes in, for nearly 4 years. When the houses are sold the home owners will do their gardens. The nearest Garden Centre is in Rodriguillo and the Alicante region again. Build a wall? Again, the nearest builder’s yard is in Pinoso.
      The new residents, in the main, will go to the nearest town for drinks, meals and grocery shopping etc. Oh dear Pinoso again!
      Well at least with 132 houses being built during the next 10 years or so there must be a commercial centre. Not for just 132 houses. Statistics say at least 50% of the new builds will be holiday homes, empty for 90% of the year, therefore no shops apparently.
      “Come on” I said, “there must be a reason why the developer didn’t propose to build the project near Albanilla. I mean they could get a brown site at a reasonable price there! Think of the benefits.
      Home owners could get to enjoy the wonderful theatre, Flamenco shows, 19 Gastronomic restaurants, 7 Bars and Nightlife establishments, world renowned fiestas and the Moors and Christian procession that goes on for hours, watching in the warm summer afternoon sun, while sipping a San Miguel or two.

      Maybe close enough to walk down to the local Panaderia for fresh Pan and an English, Dutch or Belgium etc newspaper.

      Hospitals and emergency treatment is a worry where we live as it is a 45 minute run to Abanilla. So, think about it, Abanilla will have to provide those services.

      Let’s look at the developer’s literature for a clue as to why he chose this area. “For weekly shopping, Pinoso is a relaxed 15 minute drive away and provides all the usual services one would expect”. So now we know, Alicante region again.

      Surely people buying on an urbanisation would prefer all the amenities that a development near Abanilla would offer? Surely Abanilla would prefer the investment to benefit Abanilla, not Alicante?

      Come Colin use your brain! The developer chose this site because he could seize land from the farmers for a pittance and because it’s agricultural and cheap, destroying their livelihood in the process.
      They could also take land from existing properties with derisory compensation and force the hapless home owners to make a contribution to their infrastructure costs to the tune of tens of thousands of euro’s, all in the name of a law that was never intended for Developers and Ajuntamiento’s to use in this way, notoriously known as “Land Grab”.

      After receiving our official letter, at the beginning of August, from the Ajuntamiento we hot footed it up to Abanilla. The man we needed to see, to explain what the plans meant, was on holiday until September. A very nice man showed us the drawings but was unable to offer us an explanation. When we saw on the plans that it was proposed to take up to 70% of our gardens I think he feared for his life! He said “don’t worry you will get compensation!!!!!” When he realised that that didn’t do the trick, he hastily went for his breakfast.

      However, he did give us a template of a letter to submit, opposing the plan, but we had only a week left to do so. My lawyer and everyone else’s were on holiday until September. Surely they didn’t send the letter out in August deliberately, knowing that the Abanilla Technical Architect and every Lawyer would be on holiday? How could we possibly mount a sensible defense in the time given?

      Well! we did find a lawyer and subsequently sent in our defense. So watch this space.

      I suppose the moral of this story is don’t buy a property on Agricultural land (rustica) as it will always be vulnerable to this kind of abuse.

    • #100790

      What a brilliantly written post albeit a sorry state of affairs. I for one will eagerly await the next instalment.

    • #100792

      Someone proposing to build an urb of 132 holiday villas, charging 400,000 euros a throw, 60km or so from the beach, in the middle of nowhere with no commercial centre, you’d think would be locked up.

    • #100844

      Sorry to hear this This plan just seems madness, sure the Ayuntamiento think they will get revenue, but that is only of the homes can be sold, and it seems unlikely to me

      I seriously doubt this is a viable project, and most developers seem to rely on significant bank funding to deal with all the costs, prior to sales generating income, will any bank fund this? I doubt it!

      So, my guess is that if this goes ahead it will not get finished for a very long time (if ever), just crazy!

    • #100848

      I suspect the process to develop this area began a long time ago, in another age well before the recession and property crash. The developers are continuing with it because they have nothing to lose. In many years to come when the market turns they can resurrect the process. Meanwhile it’s a land bank that can be used as collateral.
      Unless local authority funding is forthcoming to provide social housing these developers will simply be unable to raise the capital to install the required infrastructure. Currently banks and other investing institutions will not touch property in Spain. It’s toxic and likely to remain so for many years. In any case their ability to fund new projects has become severely limited due to new rules of reserve capital.
      I should not worry your peaceful environment is safe, at least for a while.

    • #100849

      Agree but what the developers often do is get in the diggers to set out a couple of streets thus staking their rights. Doesn’t cost much to hire a couple of excavators. They can do a lot of damage in a week. As for compensation, it is usually the person who has had their land “stolen” who has to pay the Developer for infrastructure.

    • #100873

      Hi Colin – sorry to read your post, can only imagine the stress this is causing.

      The article I’m linking below may be of interest, especially if the residents in your area are mainly expats. If so, it maybe worth contacting the British UKIP MEP Marta Andreasen with your story (if you haven’t already done so) to give her added ‘ammunition’.

      Am hoping however that El anciano’s post has got it right.

      European Commission says it is monitoring whether Spain is discriminating against foreign property owners

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