I work for the Robert Hitchins Group Ltd Group in the UK, originally involved in housing development in the west of England, where we built 15,000 homes. Background information may be found at http://www.almanzora.com/en/holidays/about/what_we_do.php
Our subsidiary, The Almanzora Group Ltd, carries out marketing for the Almanzora Bay projects, including Desert Springs, in south east Spain. We are therefore concerned about the content of this thread, of which we had been unaware until recently. Although the last post was some time ago, it seems appropriate to provide some factual information.
First the contamination issue.
The 1966 accident is well documented and extensive testing of all areas in and around Palomares has been carried out by the Spanish Government with assistance from the United States of America Department of Energy over the past 44 years. Despite the original clean up, two small areas of affected land have been precisely identified and expropriated by the Government. Both are fenced off and protected; one is adjacent to the cemetery and one is within Palomares village. A third area at the top of some mountains further away is still under investigation. All these areas are at a distance to the south and west of Desert Springs. At the time of the accident, the wind was blowing strongly from the west to the east, so Desert Springs was well up wind of all the affected areas.
Nevertheless, prior to the start of Desert Springs, the company requested the Spanish Government ministry responsible for contamination protection to test samples from land lying between Desert Springs and the contaminated areas to check that no areas on the plateau where Desert Springs is located were affected. The results were negative, i.e. they showed that there was no contamination present and that the accident had had no affect on Desert Springs nor on its surroundings.
Second, in respect of the planning issue referred to by “AAA”, the facts are:
8th May, 1996: Planning Consent for Desert Springs granted by approval of its “Plan Parcial”.
27th April, 1998: Project of Compensation for Desert Springs approved; dealing with the cession of green zones, school sites, sports areas, etc.
27th April, 1999: Project of Urbanization approved; dealing with the provision of roads and services.
10th April, 2000: Construction of Desert Springs commenced, with its infrastructure being carried out in planned phases, infrastructure provision at present about 55% complete.
All the above was approved in accordance with the Normas Subsidiarias (the Local Plan) for Cuevas del Almanzora, approved by the Junta de Andalucia in 1993, which was and still remains the relevant current and valid governing plan for this area, until the new PGOU.(General Zoning Plan) is approved definitively. The PGOU remains in draft form only in terms of its application to areas outside existing built up areas. Nevertheless, Desert Springs is included in the draft PGOU on the same basis as in the Normas Subsidiarias and will continue to be developed in accordance with its existing planning and other specific consents.
Being associated with an established and successful long term UK developer of repute, Desert Springs is very aware of client’s concerns regarding the legality of developments in Spain and it encourages the use of reputable independent lawyers for client’s conveyances.
So all the above facts have been verified many times over in the process of due diligence, carried out on behalf of existing home owners, by a very large number of unrelated and independent solicitors from all over Spain and the UK, as well as other organizations, including Mark Stucklin himself; that is why Desert Springs is included in the very few developments he recommends.
Finally, as to the over development, this municipality, Cuevas del Almanzora, has very little development, unlike Vera and Murcia. The vast majority of its land area is specifically protected “sierra”, habitats, other special environmental areas and protected agricultural “vega”. Of its coastline, approximately 60% is also protected.