Development chaos on the Costa Del Sol

THE issue of illegally built homes is one that affects many thousands of expatriates living in Spain, and in particular areas like the Costa del Sol and Almeria.

The General Plan for Urban Development (PGOU) for Marbella, in Malaga Province, was recently approved and its aims are to restore judicial safety to the town, as well as attempting to solve problems from the past relating to the more than 16,500 illegally built homes.

It will achieve this by setting a series of deadlines to initiate the regularization procedures, warning that if these proceeding are not started, the town hall will be able to take action (at the expense of owners or promoters) and/or if necessary leave homes which do not do so out of the PGOU, that is, in an illegal situation.

The latter carries leads to the loss in value of the property as well as the limitation on credit and sales possibilities.

The irregularities in homes detected in the PGOU are multiple, but are mainly related to building on protected land, on land destined for public areas without complying with the legal transfer duties (non-transfer of free areas and resources); areas with excessive building or density, among others.

Due to the amount of different problems, the PGOU could not set global or general solutions, but on the other hand, has tried to find individual solutions, which inevitably can lead to unfair situations in which the correct assessment is advisable.

The size of the problem can be seen in the image below, where the PGOU map of Marbella shows more than 1,000 illegal urbanizations.

The PGOU does not legalise the affected homes and communities, but instead establishes the way they can be legalised, setting a Development charge which affects them, this is why it is essential to be properly advised, so the deadlines are complied with and that all necessary measures can be taken and actions carried out in order to ‘legalize’ properties.

The participation of local residents in drawing up the PGOU is fundamental, and not only something which the urban development law wants to promote, but also the only way to guarantee to normal citizens, that our political representatives and leaders know our problems, our demands and proposals.

Many Town Halls all over are starting the drafting of the PGOU, so it is recommended to make the participation positive, pointing out the real existing problems, proposing alternatives to solve them, opening the dialogue necessary for the elaboration of the PGOU.

In our opinion, the instrument which allows the complex and untidy situations to be legalised must be the PGOU, in that it is an efficient and necessary judicial setting which is needed to provide judicial safety to the area, guaranteeing citizens the due confidence in the existing legal setting, and therefore, the due respect for their assets and rights.

The main town planning problems.

One of the main problems is the lack of First Occupation License, which allows the house to be used. There are many reasons why they do not have the license (such as not having or flouting a building license, the urbanization not having been carried out, fees not being paid…) therefore, it is fundamental to know the status of the property, not only if they want to sell or mortgage it, but also to avoid devaluation. And now in Andalucia, because a recent act, the companies could even cut services off in case you don’t have the FOL.

Another problem is when promoters have not fulfilled the contract or completed the urbanization, meaning that the services and resources have not been completed and the infrastructure required by the town hall is not in place. In many cases, he town hall demands current owners of the homes to comply with the requirements, demand that they be carried out, or that large sums of money be paid.

In many other cases, when there is no building license or it has been flouted, the Town Hall can start proceedings to make the property legal, demanding that urban planning laws be obeyed and with the possibility of ordering that the unduly built home or extension be demolished.

It is important to note that this action can expire within four years (unless protected land or green areas).
Also, the coastal boundary is affecting many properties. When demolition orders are issued for buildings near the sea or on the coastline these are hard to solve, but precedents are of vital importance to lead one in the right direction and show that the Law provides different alternatives for each case.

Source: EWN Business

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