While the nearby Priors home was knocked down, the Olive Press can reveal that this enormous 420m villa – owned by local politicians – was built with just a ‘renovation’ licence
THIS tasteless, four-storey monstrosity bears little resemblance to the classic white-washed Andalucian cortijo that once stood in its place.
Yet the 420 square metre mansion devoid of character was built using only a licence for its restoration.
Dwarfing the original size of less than 80metres squared, it is three stories higher and bears no similarities. It doesn’t even share its footprint.
But, the construction – dubbed the ‘Travelodge’ by angry locals – just so happens to be owned by an employee of the Junta of Andalucia and his wife, a Socialist PSOE councillor.
And this, of course, might explain why it has been allowed to stand while the tasteful home of Len and Helen Prior just 2 kilometres away was demolished in one fell swoop at the swish of a beaurocrat’s pen.
Built by Junta employee Alfonso Rodriguez, the harbour master in Garrucha, and his councillor wife Carmen Munoz, it has raised considerable anger among expatriates furious that the homes they have licences for may now have to be knocked down.
“It’s ridiculous that their property is the only one without a ‘denuncia’ from the Junta”
“It’s ridiculous that their property is the only one without a ‘denuncia’ from the Junta,” said John Bull, 67, a near neighbour, whose home is slated for demolition.
Built entirely legally, with a town hall licence, the former engineer for BOC is mystified. “It is one rule for one, one rule for another and quite skewiff.
“The Junta is clearly showing favouritism.”
The issue has now raised its head again after the High Court ruled that the Priors home Tranquilidad should not have been demolished after all (Demolished homeowners can rebuild their lives).
It has confirmed exactly what expatriates have been thinking since the Priors’ house was demolished in January;2008, that the regional government is showing impartiality when it comes to deciding which properties are pulled down.
Helen Prior told the Olive Press: “It was a tiny cortijo and the licence they got was for a renovation and instead they have built a Travelodge.
“We understand they didn’t even have the 10,000 metres needed to build. I have no idea how they got away with it. It is bizarre and unfair.”
The Olive Press can reveal that the 100-year-old cortijo was demolished to build the 420-square metre, four-storey mansion in Loma de Vera.
But, as confirmed by Vera council, it only had a licence as a renovation. According to the law on the restoration of a ruin, any new structure has to be built over the ‘footprint’ of the original building.
Yet the mansion was built more than 15 metres away from where the original cortijo stood and bears no similarity in style.
Although by law a larger construction can be built over the site of an original ruin, it is still required to comply with strict guidelines.
According to its owner Sr Rodriguez, the original cortijo was 135 square metres in size. He said the law allowed him to build a property with ground floor dimensions of up to 25 per cent greater than the original dimensions – in this case 175 square metres.
But John Bull, whose property 100 metres away is earmarked for demolition, said the original cortijo was far smaller.
His views are supported by official land registry (catastral) records, which show that the structure officially measured less than 80 square metres.
Vera’s councillor for urban planning, Paco Vázquez, expressed surprise at the Olive Press findings. He said: “The project presented was for a restoration and they should have built over the existing area.”
The revelation will do little to reassure Loma de Vera’s expat community – or indeed the thousands of Brits living in Andalucia who have a demolition order hanging over them – that the Junta is acting even-handedly in the matter.
Another local Angela Willis, who lives opposite the ‘Travelodge’, received the unwelcome news last year that the Junta had presented an unfavourable report about her property.
It is the same procedure which set the wheels in motion for the demolition of the Priors’ home some five years ago.
An aggrieved Mrs Willis said: “It’s not sour grapes, and personally I get on well with the owners, but I am angry that our mayor Félix López was still signing permits in October 2003 despite knowing that there were discrepancies here.”
Earlier this month Lopez was due in court on bribary charges after a developer came forward alleging that payments in excess of 600,000 euros were made by his company Dico to Vera Council to obtain approvals of suspect land reclassifications.
But despite the fact that Lopez could go to prison, a combative Mrs Willis said she still wanted to stay. “If they accepted our taxes I’m entitled to be here,” she insisted.