Marjal described the growth of Torrevieja and the surrounding area perfectly, and Jose Quesada was indeed one of the original entrepreneurs, but he started building long before 1986. He died recently.
He realised what the majority of British people wanted, smallish, easily maintained houses, within striking distance of the sea; you can easily walk to it from his earlier developments on the Torretas, although you need to use the bus from La Siesta.
He got the land for next to nothing and the town hall issued the necessary licences by the thousand, and the infrastructure was put into place very quickly.
In the eighties, you could buy one of his houses for the price of a car back in the UK, and if you sold a normal semi detached back home, you could pay cash for your home in the sun and live on the residue for many years, if not for the rest of your life.
The earlier developments around the Torretas were all cheap and cheerfulll, but La Siesta, El Chaparal and San Luis had the perfect mix, cheap and cheerful mixed with detached villas on 1,000 metre plots, which are even now still selling at 400K. The small terraced houses can now be bought for around 70K.
Quesada’s idea was later copied by the big developers, but they picked the wrong time and place and are now mostly in administration, leaving behind them an unseemly mess, mostly at Orihuela Costa.
The northern Costa Blanca has never had developments on the scale of the south, for one thing the terrain doesn’t allow it, and the area to the north has attracted the people from the UK who sold detached houses back home, different people, generally. I don’t know, it’s so hard to be subjective, and you can’t really compare Basingstoke with Barking.
But the end result is that some 100,000 expats live to the south of Alicante, in communities they want to live in and they’re happy to live that way, among their own.
The Brits are still coming over, but in smaller numbers; the retired bank managers are sill buying villas on the slopes of Montgo to the north, and the retired bus drivers are sill buying the quads to the south.