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Facultad de Derecho
Campus de Teatinos
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Recortes de Prensa

British ex-pats take to the streets in Spain to protest against plans to bulldoze their illegally built homes

Eye on Spain, 12 | 01 | 2010 - Noticia

Hundreds of expats stopped traffic in Spain yesterday as they protested against plans to bulldoze illegally built homes.

Around 800 British and Irish residents marched in Almeria after demolition orders were issued for eight expat-owned homes in the nearby town of Albox.

The owners are appealing but it is feared many more homes are under threat after Spanish regional authorities overruled planning permission.

Thousands of Britons have bought Spanish properties in good faith, only to find they were illegally built on protected land.

Albox home owner Nicola Veitch, of Jersey, said: ‘We are devastated. We have every legal document under the sun for our property.’

On Monday, protesters bearing placards with slogans such as ‘We’ve done nothing wrong’ in English and Spanish took to the streets of the city of Almeria in a one-hour demonstration which halted traffic.

Coachloads of protesters travelled from Malaga and Valencia to support the march.

Expat anger has centred on the fact none of the affected home owners were ever informed of the risk to their properties, despite years of legal battles between municipal and regional authorities.

Maura Hillen, president of AUAN, a pressure group demanding an end to the insecurity of the Spanish property market, said: ‘All eight of the affected home owners did everything required of them by Spanish law to ensure their properties were legal.

‘And now the regional government wants to knock their houses down. It is time for a change in the law.

‘This is not about paperwork anymore, it’s about people’s lives.

‘These eight homes are all among the first to be built in the area and are therefore the first to come through the sausage machine of Spanish law.

‘Nobody knows how many other demolition orders there could be waiting to be issued.’

The local town hall had issued building licences for the Albox properties, but they were nullified following court action by the regional government.

Also on the march were pensioners Len and Helen Prior, who hit the headlines in January 2008 when their £350,000 home in the nearby village of Vera was bulldozed.

Mr Prior joined the demo in a wheelchair, and said his health has been seriously affected by the stress of the losing his home.

Mrs Prior said that no sign of their promised compensation had been seen, explaining: ‘My husband is getting sicker all the time and I am just exhausted.

‘And now the regional government have done the same to other people. It’s disgusting.’

The demolition orders in Albox were served days before Christmas.

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