JUDGES in Granada have ordered construction work on the Parque Nevada shopping centre in Armilla to be stopped after a request by building officials from the regional government.

The stopping order follows months of speculation and controversy surrounding the project.

Judges in the Supreme Court acted following a report by the Department of Public Works of the Junta de Andalucía, which concluded the shopping centre “seriously contravenes building regulations.”

The court heard how the 200-million-euro shopping centre and its open air car parks are being constructed on green belt land. The building also breaks height restrictions.

“This decision protects the public interest over private. Allowing the work to continue would give an appearance of tolerance towards the phenomenon of illegal building irregularities,” said the presiding magistrate.

Mayor José Antonio Morales Cara of the socialist PSOE party announced the town will appeal the judges’ decision after the order was issued on November 2.

He denies there are any irregularities in the construction of the shopping centre – which will be the biggest in Andalucía if it is ever completed.

“Not a square metre of the land is contentious.”

Members of the Policía Local were called to ensure all work on the 350,000-square metre centre did not continue immediately after the order was issued.

Provincial secretary of the Partido Popular, Antonio Ayllón, asked the regional government to strip Armilla council of its authority to grant building licences.

“The Junta de Andalucía must intervene and take measures against this council. If this means withdrawing the authority to give permission to build, then so be it,” he said.

There are also doubts over the building license granted to construction company General de Galerías Comerciales, which is owned by Tomás Olivo who was arrested on bribery charges as part of the ongoing investigation into town planning corruption in Marbella.

This documentation is currently being investigated by the public prosecutor’s office after a request was made by the PP, Armilla’s main opposition political party.

Meanwhile, the mayor of one Almería town has two months to close the doors of an “illegal” shopping centre – or face possible criminal charges.

The Junta de Andalucía regional government has given Roquetas de Mar mayor Gabriel Amat until the end of the year to force the closure of the Gran Plaza shopping precinct after the Supreme Court cancelled its opening licence.

Junta president Manuel Chaves told a press conference in Almería that proceedings will be taken against Señor Amat if he does not obey the legal ruling

“There is no reason whatsoever for the mayor of Roquetas de Mar to oppose this decision.
“If he refuses to obey the law, he may be liable for criminal proceedings.”

The centre is also owned by Tomás Olivo. His company – General de Galerías Comerciales – was granted the licence to open the centre in September 2000 by the town’s council even though the Department of Tax and Economy of the regional government had earlier concluded in a report the project was unviable.

However, the Señor Amat is asking the regional government to show “good sense” over the possible closure.

“We are appealing to the Junta to act reasonably and to search for alternative solutions to end this problem,” he said.

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