THE Guadalhorce Valley or Axarquia region seen from above, looks like a patchwork quilt of little white houses.
Why would anyone want to stop the construction of these types of houses built on non-developable land having seen this idyllic image of Andalucía?
Well, clearly they do. But with politics involved there is often a way around it, as we discovered was the case in the Axarquia a fortnight ago.
The Land Development Planning Act of Andalucía, which came into force in January 2003, radically changed the law preventing construction where it had been possible the day before.
In Articles 319 and 320 of the Penal Code it is now considered an offence to build on rural land with those found guilty facing up to four years in prison and the demolition of their home.
The only exceptions to the rule are if you can prove that you need to build a house for important agricultural, forestry or livestock reasons.
If you can, then try and get a so-called ‘Proyecto de Actuación’ approved, which would give you the right to build.
The problem is that most of these schemes are rejected outright, because such an association is not sufficiently justified.
Indeed, it is only when it is proven that the owner must live there to care for the business, which must be properly registered, that it is possible to get consent. On top of this the processing of all this can take several years, so be patient.
Given the complications and bureaucracy, it is no surprise that some people feel tempted to build just as their neighbours have done around them.
However beware, this sort of move is likely to lead you into criminal proceedings.
The argument normally follows that it is unfair to penalise you because your neighbour has not been prosecuted. The courts don’t see it this way however, and plough on regardless.
In these cases, what solutions are there?
Regrettably few. One of the best is if it can be proved the house had been standing for four years before the authorities started proceedings. If so the time period for a prosecution would have expired.
But the bottom line is that the authorities normally win in the end, unless, of course, there is a clear political intention to fix the problem as is happening in the Axarquía at the moment.
With elections fast coming up in May, there are no surprises there.