My Own Land Grab Nightmare

Published on 19/10/2010 in Real Life Stories

I was in my front garden deheading the African daisies when I noticed this Police Local car pull up outside my gate. Straight away you feel guilty, what have I done. Was it that red light I sort of jumped two weeks ago.

Land grab in SpainI spoke to him through the gate and he had a bunch of official looking papers in his hand I Signed for mine and off he went. I read through the letter, it was from Abanilla Ajuntamiento, as best I could and a feeling of dread came over me.

Where we are is a beautiful spot at the foot of the Sierra de Quibas in the Valle de Quibas. We have a lovely home on a 5000m2 plot with a swimming pool, our dream home. Having had property on an urbanisation we chose this Villa because of the tranquillity of the area, although far from amenities. The builder was doing as he promised, building large villa's on large plots, dotted along the valley. This has minimum impact on the immediate environment. We have wild boar with their young wandering down the Camino, foxes, buzzards and several species of snake, mainly harmless thank god.

In Abanilla's own literature it talks about the Quibas Paleontological Site. Located in the Sierra de Quibas, It says this site has been declared a Site of Cultural Interest due to its abundant and varied wildlife (more than 60 species of reptiles, mammals. amphibians, birds etc). Considering the age of the site there is a likelihood of finding prehistoric human remains.

It was some time ago we began to hear rumours about an urbanisation proposed in the area, but it wasn't until we received the official notification from Abanilla Ajuntamiento that it hit home. Ah well we thought, must not stand in the way of progress. Inward investment is good it will bring employment and benefit to the region.

Then I thought well it's the same builders who built our house and the 20 or so others in the valley, all detached Villa's like us on big plots. He is a small builder, who normally builds one at a time. Who is going to benefit from this 50,000,000e building project?  Certainly the Abanilla Ajuntamiento, with building licenses etc and then eventual they will collect the council tax.

But is anybody else in the Region going to benefit?

What about the workers, the men who build the houses. Yes, but they're mainly South American on minimum wage, can't even afford to have breakfast in the one local bar, they bring sandwiches! Also they live in Alicante region where they spend their wages, so no benefit there. Well look at all those building materials, surely Abaniila will benefit from that.  No they come from Aspe where the builders' account is.

Ah, the directors 10,000,000e profit they stand to make. Where is that going to be spent? Well, one director lives on the coast, the other two in Elche, all Alicante region then, so no benefit there.

I was getting more and more depressed trying to find a benefit for the Abanilla region I have lived and paid my taxes in, for nearly 4 years. Yes, yes when the houses are sold the home owners will do their gardens. Nearest Garden Centre is Rodriguillo, Alicante region again. Build a wall? Again nearest builders yard Pinoso.

The new residents, in the main, will go to the nearest town for drinks, meals and grocery shopping etc,    oh dear Pinoso again.

Well at least with 132 houses built during the next 10 years or so there must be a commercial centre, not for 132 houses. Statistics say at least 50% holiday homes, empty for  90% of the year, therefore no shops apparently.

Come on I said, there must be a reason why the developer didn't propose to build the project near Albanilla. I mean they could get a brown site at a reasonable price there!. Think of the benefits.

Home owners could get to enjoy the wonderful theatre, Flamenco shows, 19 Gastronomy restaurants, 7 Bars and Nightlife establishments, world renowned fiestas and the Moors and Christian procession that goes on for hours, watching in the warm summer afternoon sun, while sipping a San Miguel or two.

Maybe close enough to walk down to the Panaderia local for fresh Pan and an English, Dutch, Belgium etc newspaper.

Hospitals and Emergency treatment is a worry where we are, 45 minute run to Abanilla. So think about it, Abanilla will have to provide those services.

Let's look at the developer's literature for a clue as to why he chose this area. "For weekly shopping, Pinoso is a relaxed 15 minute drive away and provides all the usual services one would expect".  So now we know, Alicante region again.

Surely people buying on an urbanisation would prefer all the amenities that a development near Abanilla would offer? surely Abanilla would prefer the investment to benefit Abanilla, not Alicante?

Come Colin use your brain. The developer chose this site because he could seize land off the farmers for a pittance because it's agricultural and cheap. Destroying their livelihood in the process.

They could also take land from existing properties with derisory compensation and force the hapless home owners to make a contribution to their infrastructure costs to the tune of tens of thousands of euro's, all under the name of a law that was never intended for Developers and Ajuntamiento's to use this way, notoriously known as "land Grab".

Yes after receiving our official letter, at the beginning of August, from the Ajuntamiento we hot footed it up to Abanilla. The man we needed to see to explain what the plans meant was on holiday until September. But a very nice man showed us the drawings but couldn't explain anything. When we saw on the plans that they proposed to take up to 70% of our gardens. I think he feared for his life. He said don't worry you will get compensation!!!!!.  When he realized that didn't do the trick, he hastily went for his breakfast.

However he did give us a template of a letter to send in, opposing the plan. But we had only got a week left to do it. My lawyer and everyone else's were on holiday until September. Surely they didn't send the letter out in August deliberately, knowing that the Abanilla Technical Architect and every Lawyer would be on holiday, so that we couldn't mount a sensible defense?

Well we did find a lawyer and sent in our defense. So watch this space.

I suppose the moral of this story is don't buy a property on Agricultural land (rustica) as it will always be vulnerable to this kind of abuse.

Written by: Colin Byrne

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John Scott said:
20 October 2010 @ 11:22

What a nightmare for you, althoughI am wondering if your local Administration are on drugs, or on a promise of some sort of financial incentive (usually known as a BUNG). Who on Earth do these corrupt clowns, no! wrong word, some people find clowns funny, and there is certainly nothing remotley funny about this situation. I digress, who on Earth do these people think they are going to sell these properties to ? especially taking into account the apparent lack of amenities. I do hope for your sake that this
is not some kind of under cover social housing scheme. Let's pray
you are left in peace.

Graham said:
19 October 2010 @ 21:41

A couple of questions Colin
Land Grab?
Not in the Valencia region are you?
Building now?
My suspicion is that this will never be built. I think you are totally right about why they sent out the letters in August and this might well be a last hurrah for the builders, Mayor etc...
I can't say don't be worried but kick up the biggest stink possible because anyone building an urb at the moment must be mad with 1.6 million completed properties for sale in Spain.

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