Marbella losing the right to grant licences

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      It may be of interest to people involved in purchasing in the ‘Marbella’ area, especially if their development is awaiting the granting of a Building Licence and/or Licence of First Occupation.

      If your developer is saying “Don’t worry, it’s coming soon….”, don’t believe a word!

      January 10, 2006 | Permalink
      Marbella has to hand over responsibility for town planning
      Sur in English

      When the Junta de Andalucía declared this week that it was taking over responsibility for town planning in Marbella, the top Costa del Sol resort became the only town in Spain to lose control over this vital concern.

      From now on, Marbella’s town council will not only be deprived of the right to control planning issues, but it will also be banned from obtaining direct financial benefit from town planning agreements. The Andalusian government hopes that the measure will bring back legality and planning security to a notoriously unsettled sector, after more than a decade of controversy and wrangling. The question still remains though, in the minds of both supporters and detractors of this move, as to whether it can really put an end to a very difficult situation and restore confidence in the local economy.
      One difficulty arises from the fact that the Junta de Andalucía will coordinate planning and real estate agreements – in accordance with the Land Law which comes into force on December 12th – but the Town Hall will still carry out the day-to-day administrative tasks including the granting of licences. These licences will have to adhere strictly to the parameters set down by the Public Works and Planning department in Seville, but the paperwork will be dealt with locally. This situation gives cause for concern on two fronts. Firstly, it is feared that the confrontation between local and regional governments could lead the former to initiate some sort of go slow on the administration, by not giving licences or by slowing down the process. This would lead to a worse crisis in investment and would create considerable unease in society, which could be seen supporting the current council’s stance. It would, however, leave the Town Hall without its main source of usable revenue. All the funds transferred to Marbella by the State, at so much per inhabitant, now go to pay off the debt owed by Marbella to the Social Security and Inland Revenue offices. The debt stands at more than 182 million euros.

      The second concern voiced in Marbella is that this latest move on the part of the regional authority may hold up town planning. The Town Plan currently being considered has received more than 2,500 suggestions from political parties, social groups and private individuals, and the plan was due to have been re-designed, taking them into consideration, by the Marbella town planners. Now the town will have to wait until the Junta takes up the reins – which could mean four months, or could mean a year – to find out whether the suggestions are accepted or rejected.

      One thing is clear, and that is that relations between the town council and the regional government have taken a drastic turn for the worse, after a period of almost two years during which they seemed to come closer to some form of agreement. The Mayor, Marisol Yagüe, has said that she will be appealing against what she sees as an “aggression”. There are more storms on the horizon.

      6000 licences challenged by the Junta since Marisol Yagüe became Mayor

      The challenges, counter-challenges, court cases and sentences in the recent history of Marbella make matters difficult to understand for the public, which has been hearing stories of town planning abuse for years. When Marisol Yagüe became Mayor in 2003, she promised not to issue any building licences which were contrary to the Town Plan of 1986 – the only one which is valid in the eyes of the Junta de Andalucía. She has kept that particular promise, in direct contrast to the policies of her predecessors, the mayors of the GIL era. So why does the Junta now decide to take over town planning in Marbella? The reason given by the Public Works department in Seville is that although no new illegal licences have been issued, Yagüe’s team have turned a blind eye to obvious illegalities which have continued during their term of office, and which had been approved beforehand, albeit illegally. The reproaches from the provincial government became more forceful recently when it was found that the current local officers had granted “first occupation” licences for 1,900 houses or commercial premises which the Junta had decreed were being built illegally. The Town Hall, says the Junta, takes no notice of court orders to halt building work. Yagüe insists that she does in fact send the local police to enforce such orders, but cannot put an officer on guard outside each one, or the town would be left without any police officers for other duties. It is up to the judges, she says, to enforce the orders to halt work.

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