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4 February 2008

Britons shun Spanish coast for fear of bulldozers

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by Gill Montia

Britons shun Spanish coast for fear of bulldozers

UK investors are still nervous about buying Spanish property because of the sheer number of corruption and planning scandals that could lead to more illegally built homes being demolished.

Figures released last week from the Costa del Sol Association of Constructors and Promoters show a sharp fall in the number of foreign investors purchasing properties on Spain’s Mediterranean cost.

Non-Spanish property investors (40% of whom are estimated to be British) spent £406 million on property in the area in the first 10 months of 2007. The figure represents a 70% decrease on the same period of 2005 (£1.38 billon).

Higher mortgage interest rates, concerns over economic slowdown and property oversupply are also factors to be taken into account, but José Prado, president of the Association says: “The single most significant factor in this horrific decline has been the threat of demolition.”

During the Spanish property boom of the1990s, villas and apartments were built on protected land, spoiling miles of stunning coastline.

Recent crackdowns by regional authorities and Spain’s national government have led to the threat of thousands of homes being demolished.

In Marbella, the owners of 5,000 illegally built properties are fighting in the courts to stop their homes being torn down and only last month a £350,000 villa owned by a British pensioner was demolished in Vera, for breaching planning regulations.

Ten other houses in Vera, four of which are owned by Britons, are also scheduled demolition. On the Costa Blanca, a development at Catral that has been built on a nature reserve is under threat of demolition by authorities in Valencia.

Meanshile, issues of compensation for those already evicted rumble on.

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