Marbella Solution?

April 30th, 2007

The fates of both Marbella developers and the owners of 30,000 homes in legal limbo could be sealed this month as town hall administrators finalise a solution to abuses highlighted by Operation Malaya. Reports suggest they will ask developers to buy greenbelt land to offset “illegal” land, which they had been developing until the scandal broke in April 2006.

However, the developer of the Los Vistas project told Andrew Winter, presenter of Channel 4’s Selling Houses Abroad recently that he would not buy land or refund victims of the scandal because he believes Los Vistas was “also a victim”. This view was criticised by Richard Castro, commercial director for developer Grupo GMB, who said: “I do not believe that there are unfortunate developers who unknowingly purchased land. Surely, it should not be down to willingness, they should be brought to account for the impact on the thousands of developers that do build legally and conscientiously.”

Spanish property writer Sarah Drane said the proposal is wise. “This should bring a dramatic reduction in the number of projects coming in the next few years,” she said. “Of the 80-plus planning applications lodged at the town hall when the scandal broke, all but a few have already been thrown out.”

There have been 94 arrests in the past 12 months, including Juan Antonio Roca, the former town planning adviser accused of masterminding the £1.7billion swindle. According to reports, the public works officer at Marbella’s town hall also wants Roca to personally compensate the owners of 950 properties most at risk.

“These 950 homes are thought to be built on land that would never have been zoned for homes and it is likely that some will be demolished, partly to make an example of the worst offenders and also to indicate that the authorities really do mean businesses in the future,” said Drane.

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