By Imogen Calderwood
A GROUP of expats have lost a two-and-a-half-year legal battle to prevent the demolition of their wooden homes on the Costa de la Luz.
The residents are now suing an English developer for over a million euros after discovering that their properties are to be knocked down next week.
The group from the Atlantic Forest Park, in Zahara de los Atunes, have been ordered to leave their houses on March 12, after Barbate Court ruled on the side of the landowner.
The homes, owned by a mixture of British and Swiss owners, will then be demolished to ‘make way for another housing project’.
“It is a disgrace and we have been left with no option but to walk away,” said one owner Tony Pearson, 58, from Ramsgate, Kent.
The publican said that the financial loss to himself and wife, Shirley, is around 110,000 euros and he described the emotional stress of the loss as ‘immeasurable’.
To make back some of the money they have lost, the couple are set to sell their beloved home for scrap wood after the demolition.
“Wood has value here in Spain, but we’ll only get pittance compared to what the houses are worth,” said Pearson, who has now returned to live in the UK.
“I’ve given all the furniture away to another family who had been repossessed. They had found somewhere to live but had no furniture.”
The owners’ homes have been the focus of a heated battle including allegations of fraud and millions of euros of unpaid bills.
Of the 14 residents to be evicted next week, one British expat couple in their 80s have been left struggling to find alternative accommodation.
The couple – who do not wish to be named – paid 25,000 euros for the contract that gave them rights to the land until May 15 2036.
The pensioners are being forced to rent from a friend nearby.
The eviction comes despite overcoming many problems that should not have been their responsibility.
The group had to pay an unpaid electric bill of over 14,000 euros, repair their sewage plant, maintain the well that provides their fresh water, and repair and maintain their swimming pool.
The group are now suing Alex Joll the owner of the company that leased them the land in 2008 for fraud.
The project was launched by a company Property Surfing SL, based in Fuengirola, in 2006
It envisaged the creation of a mobile home park with space for 84 mobile homes and 15 lodges built.
However, a combination of planning problems emerged, which led to the project being ruled as illegal.
Joll didn’t wish to discuss the issue with the Olive Press.
However, a friend said he had failed to get the correct permission from Barbate town hall and had been unable to buy the land off the original owner.
“He was unable to turn things around despite selling the project to a venture capital group in 2010,” said the source.
“By 2011 the venture capital company stopped funding the project and the park ‘collapsed’.
“An attempt to buy the land from the owner in 2012 failed when he refused to sell.”
However he added: “Once they are out the owner can start the process again and seek a new permit to build homes.”