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Retrospective permissions and being found out

28/07/09

Responses to a news article in 'Talk Radio Europe' website indicating that the Mayor of Marbella intends to grant retrospective permission to all those who built and bought, 'in good faith', property without planning permission.

The rule of law must prevail in a civilised society. The Mayor's proposed action ignoring the law is identical to that of the previous Mayors who got everybody in the mess in the first place. Two wrongs don't make a right.

Buying 'in good faith' can be done by anyone who keeps their eyes and ears closed. We all have an obligation to look after ourselves. Those who bought without advice, took that risk. Those who bought with advice, such as from a lawyer, should claim from the lawyer for any loss incurred. No point in suing the estate agent or developer as they were not contracted to act on your behalf. The lawyer was paid a fee to do so and failed. As professionals they should have known that the property was being constructed illegally. All should have known that the 'Gil' PGOUs were not accepted by the Junta in Sevilla. Only if they specifically excluded any liability for planning research can they be excused.

The mortgage situation must also be interesting. The banks can sue their lawyers and valuers, but are the mortgage documents legal when they cover an illegal property? Effectively there is no security for the loan.

In response a reader of the article complained about architects encouraging such building and stating that it's much better in UK as property can be built without an architect.

In the UK you can do it all yourself - if you know all the regulations from fire hazards to health and safety, etc. Then after there are insurance and mortgage companies - will they accept the property is its construction has not been designed by an architect or similar professional? People try things on in UK - such as building terraces, pools, etc that don't meet the planning requirements (that's what the local authority checks in Spain. The Colegio of Arquitectos is the equivalent of UK Building Control) - and have to remove them if found out. In Spain, its the same, except the authorities and especially the Courts are so poorly financed that the probability was that you wouldn't get found out. However, now with aerial mapping the authorities can place one photo over another taken the year before and find all the new structures. Those without permission should be denounced immediately. Better roads, digital cameras, GPS technology, etc has meant that previously 'hidden' alterations can now be found and recorded. Unfortunately, it all comes back to the Courts again, where things move so slowly. They are an embarrassment to Spain. Sevilla denounced Marbella's flouting of the planning laws almost as soon as they occurred, but it took the law a decade before it could finally move. Its like a child. They'll carry on misbehaving if they don't get stopped immediately and dealt with appropriately. So much of the problem is just selfishness and being able to get away with it. Now, hopefully, things are gradually getting better, but there must be more investment spent on processing the law (and that doesn't mean paying lawyers more!).

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Campbell D Ferguson
F.R.I.C.S. Chartered Surveyor
Survey Spain
00 34 952 923 520

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