By Alex Iszatt and Brian Sherwood, in Cantoria
TWO more British families have seen their dreams turned to dust after their properties were demolished in Almeria.
Lawyers and expat associations all expressed their outrage after the owners saw their investments tumbled into the ground with no sign of compensation.
In what could constitute a human rights abuse, the pair – thought to be Frank Doke and Peter Hegarty – had been given just 30 days to remove their possessions from their homes, in Cantoria, before the bulldozers moved in.
They had never been offered any alternative accommodation by the Junta, which ordered the action.
And this despite buying the homes from a Spanish developer in good faith nearly a decade ago.
The two owners, fearing yesterday’s events, had already moved back to the UK and given up all hope that the dream of a retirement home in the sun would be fulfilled.
Two near neighbours, also both English, were also expecting their homes to be knocked down at any time.
Asking to remain anonymous, one told the Olive Press: “We have never received any compensation – we would just like to get our money back and be able to have a bit of a life as this has gone on for eight years now.
“My health has suffered and I have had two heart attacks due to all the stress.”
Similar to the Priors, who saw their home knocked down in nearby Vera in 2008, the group had unsuspectingly bought their homes from a developer FPM, who had constructed them in 2004 without a licence.
It has been claimed that all four houses built in the Las Terrenas area were unofficially signed off by former mayor Peter Llamas – who has since been sentenced to two years in prison and 23 months’ disqualification from public office for his involvement in the case.
Llamas had certainly given permission to supply the electricity and water to the homes – even though official planning permission had not been given.
Construction had not even begun when the Junta opened an investigation against the builder following a complaint to the Guardia Civil.
But this did not stop the builders continuing to develop the property and a year later they sold them to the unsuspecting Brits.
The owners of the company are reported to be awaiting sentence over the case and have been ordered to pay the homeowners compensation for the loss of their homes.
According to sources however, they have now declared themselves and the company bankrupt.
Cantoria Town Hall lawyer Alfredo Najas meanwhile denied the fault lay at its door.
“We had never given the homes proper planning permission,” he insisted. “We regret the decision of the Junta – it will bring further ruin to the area because the British are not going to trust anyone to purchase homes in Almeria.”
And he is not alone. Philip Smalley, President of homeowners rights group SOHA, in the Axarquia, added: “We totally condemn the Junta. The homeowners were not the guilty party, the promoter was, so how can you demolish a person’s home without first ensuring that they have somewhere else to live and that appropriate compensation has been paid?
“Once again the government of Andalucia tarnishes the image of Spain abroad.”
Illegal home campaigner Maura Hillen, from AUAN, added: “These people have invested more than €3million in Spain and in return they are being treated disgracefully by a system that simply does not protect them.
“I am sorry to say that this is not an isolated case. Many thousands of illegal homeowners will now continue to live in fear of demolition. This has made matters worse”.