Couple destitute following legal battle to save their Lanjaron home
PENNILESS and desperate, a couple whose property faces demolition have told the Olive Press of their anguish at being forced out of their home in La Alpujarra.
John and Jenny Harvey are now in the United Kingdom after a legal battle with the authorities who want to knock down their home left them destitute.
Having to rely on their family for financial help, the couple are hoping that Brussels will declare illegal the demolition order that has been hanging over their mountain home since 2007.
“Things have not gone too well for John and I recently,” said Jenny, 59. “Yes, our house is still standing but it could be gone within two hours. That is all the notice the regional government will give us before the bulldozers move in.
“We felt like prisoners in our home, scared to leave in case they came to knock it down. But our financial situation has forced us to return to the UK,” she added.
The Harveys’ moved to the spa town of Lanjaron, Granada, in 2003. Prompted by John’s heart problems, the couple wanted to live the quiet life in the mountainous Alpujarra region.
As reported in issue 41, their nightmare soon began when a neighbouring farmer began a vendetta against the couple.
He complained to the Junta de Andalucía that the two-bedroom farmhouse was not correctly registered and that its swimming pool was illegal. He also complained about the balustrades that surround the couple’s property.
Following an inspection visit from regional government officials, the Harveys were told their home, which they bought for 25,000 euros in 2003, would be demolished.
They were also ordered to pay an 80,000-euro fine.
The stress eventually took its toll. John – a 65-year-old former builder – developed more heart problems and needed specialist attention.
“Unfortunately, John was very ill and at the end of May he collapsed. He was treated very well at the hospital in Granada, but he needed to see a cardiologist. We found out our medical cover did not extend to this.
“With the cost of medication and having sold the car to try to help with our finances, we ended up without any money at all,” she said.
After having invested 250,000 euros in renovating their home in Spain, it was left to their son Dean to find them a place to live on their return.
“He managed to find us a flat in Normanton, West Yorkshire, and he has been paying for everything until we find some money. At the moment we are on the breadline having to rely on the generosity of others,” said Jenny, who will return to her former job as a legal secretary once she has recovered from stress.
The couple hope that continued interest will result in a swift return to their home. The European Commission has promised to review a petition sent by the Harveys when it returns from its summer recess in September.
“It really does seem that we have at last got some action going. I hope so as I do not think I can stand much more of this. News of our plight has spread and we actually appeared on local television. Yorkshire TV’s Calender took our story and we have been promised more help. John is looking a lot better but we both miss Lanjaron terribly.
“How long it will be before we can get back I do not know,” she added.