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.”



  1. Stefanjo, you are very trusting of builders in UK. Over the years they have been the source of many programmes on TV where builders have cut corners or just not done a good job by not following the architects plans. Plans which were submitted and passed as following code but the end product told a different tale. What the inspector can’t see, or doesn’t look at, is anybody’s guess!

  2. Steve,

    We seemed to have drifted from a builder knowing a U value to bad building. It depends on what U value one is looking for and besides if a builder is asked to check the U value on a property he would re-acquire U value calculator equipment the same as a central heating installer would use a heating calculator to establish the size of radiators needed for each room which in turn indicates the size of boiler required.

    Wonderful these types of calculators, tell’s you everything needed the same as punching the tab’s on the computer to send an immediate message instead of hand writing or typing and sending by post or pigeon.

    By the way Steve, I also know something about building and pigeons. Buying plots of land years ago with building permission’s for £1400 and selling completed houses for £5850.

    Pigeons, I use to race them many years ago, even imported my stock birds into Spain.

  3. Steve,

    Your note did not appear until after my reply. Better still, there has been countless chats about the situation in Spain. Time to change the tune. How’s about finding all the faults in the U.K.

    A couple of weeks ago whilst back in the U.K I was the only person that paid cash on the bus, the driver almost fell off of his seat.

  4. I am going around the U bend here. I have looked at the Spanish builders houses and they have cavity walls and insulation. They are built as all of them I believe to local earthquake standards. I can’t believe I am saying this but caca yaya does have a point regarding the heat. They have tiled floors and no carpets for a reason and carpets are bt unpractical for many Spanish properties and tiles last much longer. Spanish properties can be cold in winter but there are many people in the UK who die from houses that are too hot in the Summer so I do not think it is quite as important as the Uk to be ultra-lagged as you would also end up with a large electric bill for A/C in the summer but yes, the old properties, just like the old Uk properties are cold in the winter, but not much colder than my last Edwardian house with original sash windows. The heating bills in Spain are a lot more than the UK December to mid-March as you have to use logs or bottled gas which is more expensive but overall with the electric being more expensive in Spain there is probably not much difference on a yearly basis with price, even in my old Spanish house in the mountains. The sun also warms the house up a little in the winter and there is not much of that in the UK. When i was in my apartment the other weekend, although it was a bit cold I did not bother with heating and yes, they had a mild Winter, a bit like the UK. As for the Spanish builders I know / use, they are very motivated and very professional, very hard to come across good builders in any Country. Granite is at least half the price of UK, labour is cheaper and if you are retired with a good pension, in one of the 99.9% of legal houses you are probably happy as Larry in Spain, many are. I ma not changing my tune here, it is just a fact, I spoke with such people last two weeks ago in Spain.

  5. “In Spain, nine-inch walls” Twenty three cm. actually, (they use metric in Spain) That is exactly the problem. Heat pours in, it’s stored in the concrete and roasts the occupants for hours at night, thus requiring air-con. The opposite occurs in winter, fuel is burnt and the heat pours out. So power needs to be consumed at both ends of the calender. The best example of coping with the environment in Spain lies in cave houses such as those in Guadix. Small windows and thick walls, that’s the ticket.

  6. I have to say my mountain property keeps nice and cool during the day without A/C, of course you have to keep the shutters almost fully down where there is direct sunlight and we even keep the windows closed after the evening air has cooled the place down overnight as it can feel like an fan oven is blowing especially in between 13.00 to 17.00. The coastal apartment is not bad as there is a breeze most afternoons but the nights can feel a bit muggy. In France though, where I stayed in an F1 hotel last summer for 7 hours sleep it felt even worse than Spain so you know, there is some kidding going on here about things being perfect in other Countries and worse in Spain. I can tell you that my house in the UK cannot cope with 35c heat, and I have double loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, double glazing, not that humid here… As stefano states, if you live in a hole you should be OK but with no natural sunlight it may drive you mad.

  7. Reap,

    That’s been my point all along, most people living here are quite happy and naturally there are some that are not. Most of the people I associate with are like myself pensioners and are quite happy to live here, some have even had birthday cards from the queen but have since past away here in Spain.

    I also know of good Spanish builders which do a first class job and some are cowboys just like those back in the U.K.

    I actually made a drawing for some Spanish builders that were doing some drainage from a high point to a lower point with intermittent manholes (proper manhole) which was most appreciated. Something new that these builders had learned.

  8. Stefanjo,

    Actually it’s 229 cm to be more precise, but that’s only the length of course.

    By the way Stef the above 100cm drainage pipe that I had mentioned to Reap had a fall of 25cm every 2mt if you wish to calculate in metric, do you know why and how it married to each manholes.

  9. Reap, you have to be joking that any property in Spain is built to withstand earthquakes wherever did you get that idea. Take a look on the net at what the Japanese and Turks are doing – that’s real earthquake construction.

    Cavity wall construction in Spain – never seen it, only country I know that uses this system is the UK. None inch walls – hilarious, even the party walls are made of cavity clay blocks that are 7cms – don’t believe me, go and take a look at any apartment/housing construction site.

    In Galicia we lived in a small apartment block built 1999 – it had a single brick external wall.

    Only the idiot Brits use fitted carpets – very bad for the health. Tiles are used because the floors are made from re-inforced concrete and c/heating pipes have zero insulation that’s why no one in our block in Guadix used the c/heating as you are attempting to heat a concrete slab.

    As someone who has personal professional experience in construction in 4 different countries there is an awful lot of uninformed waffle being spouted here.

    You mention France Reap – what you don’t say is if it was a modern or old hotel. I don’t like the materials used in French construction – too much like Spain – awful dense concrete blocks and the even worse cavity clay blocks.

    Have none of you noticed that Spanish homes ring like a bell, simple all the materials used are highly reflective.

    Reap – you can’t compare a coastal property with a mountain one, completely different climate.

    You also know absolutely nothing about cave houses – your beginning to sound like cacca. A proper cave house has a constant temperature of 19C all year round.

    My opthalmologist surgeon has a modern house (he’s not short of a bob or two) but guess what come end of May, if not sooner he decamps to his old cave house that is behind his modern one – because he can’t take the heat in the modern house.

    Stefanjo – these cave house are literally carved out of the side of a hill, so walls can be very thick. Each room that does’nt have an exterior has one of those wonderful stove pipe type ventilation chimneys and another point is that you can sleep like a baby – zero ingress of noise and in Spain that is priceless.

    Also Reap you quite obviously don’t know what real insulation is – if it’s effective then it is so in summer and winter.

    Before we moved to Spain we lived in a house that was built in 1888. I had to put right all the cowboy work. Of course I used secondary glazing behind the sash windows, did this never occur to you? we have never been warm in winter since we left the UK. The present rented house has standard thickness walls of virtually all old houses in Europe – 640mm thick made of dense stone which conducts heat wonderfully – heat is heat – there are two ends to the spectrum.

    For idiots banging on about wall thickness -completely irrelevant it’s what materials are used that dictates the insulation value – go take a look at pipe insulation used in alt. energy systems, the wall thickness is not much but you won’t feel any heat loss.

    Cacca – from what you have stated about U values – you simply hav’nt got a clue what the term means or how a U value is arrived at but you are good for a laugh.

  10. Stuart,

    Or is it Stew. You do come out with a lot of crap.

    How many houses have you built. How many pools have you built. How many covert-ions have you done, how many central heating jobs have you done, how many drawings had you done and passed by the planning department, and by that I mean personally, I have. Been personally involved in all those subjects.

    So don’t talk a lot of crap about you knowing about U values, you need instruments to check and give information as to where the heat loss is occurring.

    Each house I built had the NHBC certificate. Two lots of building inspectors, one from the council and one from the NHBC. Never had any problems.

    Are you familiar with underfloor heating in Spain. Had done it in the U.K 50 years ago where concrete floors have been laid.

    There are various forms of U value’s that one can check, but not a job for a builder, never been asked, and if asked I would call in a professional for advice, job for an architect to find these values.. So don’t talk a lot of crap about you knowing about U values.

    Asked to build a pool for Max Bygraves years ago. Thought it was one of his jokes when he said he wanted it heated by the sun. I said we don’t get sun in England. But he did explain that he had just returned from Japan and the pool on the roof at the hotel was heated with these things called solar panels.

    I had never heard of them then, and had to get information’s from my local library. Drawing’s in the books were hand drawn and instruction on how to build them, amateur stuff really. Never the less I told him I was to busy and and declined the job, didn’t wish to get involved with a law suit over hand made solar panels.

    But one of the pools I did build was for a titled Lady at her country home. (Six resident gardeners in out of sight bungalows and house staff with a butler. She lived in London all week and would visit her country home for weekends. (Daddie was the main partner of the biggest stores in the U.K, you may have heard of the stores, begin’s with an M)

    Showed her a catalog of various designs of pools. “If it’s in a book, don’t want it” she replied. Then she picked up a three leaf clover from the lawn and said, “Build me a four leaf clover shaped pool 40ft x 40ft heated and with underwater lighting. Didn’t want oil fired boilers due to the fumes. Potterson Boilers had to join two 120 btu gas boilers to give me the temperature required of 60 degrees. Ladies and gents changing rooms under the pool. All walls to changing rooms, ceilings and floor in mosaic.

    Price accepted and job done. Still have the plans I had drawn up here in Spain.

    Stew, I could go on and on so don’t talk of trivial stuff of U values on a house.

    Stick to what you know best, talk ya ya

    By the way besides the building company I was also the first person in the U.K to charge £2.50 for a 24 hour hire of video’s, VHS, Beta and 12” discs. Warner Bros films could not be hired out at the time, sale only, but I overcame that by offering a free Warner hire with a film rented. Introduced many things which eventually was picked up by other new video shops that came onto the scene. Even sold spaces for advertising on the outgoing video sleeves. Had about 4 companies on the go at one time.

    But life changes and one gets older and thought ‘Do I need all this s/t, so sold up (except for income properties in the U.K) and decided to retire to a more tranquil and happier life in sunny Spain. Made lots of new friends that had been in the same position as myself. So it’s not all gloom for some, good and bad everywhere.

    Think you said you met some contented people a few weeks back.

  11. Stuart,

    One of my last builds was a new Doctors surgery. Brick outside, slab insulation in cavity and 150cm celcon internal Blocks. And of course central heating. Had problems with the site at first, needed a structural engineers to design a re-enforced concrete slab. Digger still showing disparity in the soil as far as the boom could reach.

    Apparently when I inquired at the council as to the site it was shown many years ago as an infill. Blast. Still standing and a computer room has been added. I normally have a chat with the Doctors when I visit the U.K and have a laugh that it’s still there.

  12. Stew or Stuart,

    Prior to laying electrical underfloor heating, insulation is made thus directing the heat upwards instead of back into the concrete. When I installed this some 50 years ago back in the U.K we did use insulation and naturally today’s modern methods were not available but never the less like all modern methods they learn and are a follow up from the past.

    Recently on renovating our two bathrooms electrical underfloor heating was installed. This now comes with a built in insulation.

  13. Stuart, not sure why you are bringing Japan in and yes I have seen the programmes where their buildings are on moveable plates. I don’t think I would want a property in Spain fully insulated when it gets to 40c unless I wanted to A/C on day and night. I know what the insulation is like in Spain and it does not put me off living in Spain, I had central heating fitted at one place run by the log fire… Again, no difference in yearly utility bills compared to the UK even when I have a massive pool to run and taking into account with what I have said before I cannot see a problem. I know a couple of years ago when I said I had good Spanish builders you were on straight away telling me they are all rubbish, please you are a bit OTT with trying to rubbish everything and everyone in Spain, yes it has many problems but not everything is 100% bad. If you keep moving around the world trying to find paradise, I can tell you it does not exist. A balanced view would be more appreciated as just stating everything is terrible just reduces your credibility and you do come across as Mr Angry / Mr Nasty with your replies, keep calm with your postings it makes for a more pleasant read. Cave houses, would not like in one if you gave it to me free and yes, I have been in one, the only people who buy a cave house are the people who cannot afford a proper house.

  14. Reap,

    Well said, you have just gained another upward notch in sensibility but keep it going and don’t be distracted with negative thinking people.

    My view has been the same along but some people just don’t like hearing the truth.

  15. NikKi, These expats were given 3 weeks eviction notice only. No time to sell or decide on options available to them.
    Within 2/3 days their homes were swamped by wood and furniture buyers and suffered repeated robberies and vandalism. The Park was engulfed with removal vans, artic lorries, cranes and unscrupulous estate agents; all doing their best to make a quick buck. The bewildered residents could only do their best to get out before the Guardia turfed them off with nothing. Their retirement future hangs in the balance. They loved their Spanish homes and the wonderful country that they choose to live in. The residents’ spent a fortune on keeping their community going, paying unpaid electric bills etc when the developer disappeared to Muscat to engage on a new rampage, having failed to make his dream project work in con junction with the wealthy landowner, who promised that he would never turn them off his land. Avarice is not recommended. It causes too much unhappiness

  16. Gill. Your post is confusing me. You seem to be suggesting that they only had three weeks notice of having to move out. Yet they have had a two and a half year legal battle to try to stop it happening! Somewhat more than three weeks notice. OK, they may have only had three weeks notice of the actual eviction date and it is a horrible position to be in, but they had more than three weeks to consider their options. They knew it was coming. Again, a horrendous position to be in, but not correct to infer they only had three weeks notice that it was going to happen!

  17. Steve,

    Note. My response to some articles on these sites I don’t agree with and that’s my prerogative to question the thought’s of others the same agreeing to articles and your reply to Gill is something that I also agree to.

    From what I understand the owner of the land never intended to sell the land and the real Culprit in this fiasco is this guy called Joll who duped people to build. But also surely, some blame must be placed on the people involved in building there without an escritura and proper authorization to build.

    Would anyone build on land without

  18. It is clear Spain has big pending issues to solve here in Spain. These issues are the town hall planning in particular and the inefficiency of the administration in general which is a real mess here but I am sorry to say that the main responsible for this problem with Atlantic Parks are British (Joll is not a Spanih surname…) so people should not always blame Spain of absolutely everything as we hae many crooks here but we have also imported a good bunch of them from the UK and Germany who saddly have aimed their businesses to rip off their own country fellowmen… I really hope the owners get the problem sorted out.

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