16 Jun, 2021 @ 11:30
2 mins read

EXCLUSIVE: British expat forced to demolish his own villa in Spain or face jail just weeks after wife died


IT was a day that disgraced Andalucia.

A day that an expat was forced to demolish his home of 17 years, despite having paid for planning permission.

Brick by brick, tile by tile, British resident Gurney Davey tore down the house he had built for €150,000, after receiving shocking advice from a Spanish legal firm.

EXCLUSIVE by Olive Press: Gurney had to pay over €1,600 to tear his own house down. (Copyright Olive Press)

That it came just two months after his wife, Diana, died from cancer simply magnifies the sheer tragedy.

“I was distraught at first, my blood pressure was sky high and then I lost my wife,” Davey, 67, told the Olive Press this week.

Speaking half-way through Friday’s demolition that cost him €1,600, he added it had actually come as ‘some sort of relief’.

(Copyright Olive Press)

Having been forced to hire a digger, after disconnecting the electricity supply and water, he was on the final leg of a legal battle that began in 2004.

That was the year the legal firm, Manzanares, informed him he would be getting a licence for an ‘almacen’ (or storeroom), which would allow him to build the house near Tolox.

“We thought we had done everything right. We got legal advice and went through a lawyer in order to get permission to build the home,” Gurney explained.

EXCLUSIVE by Olive Press: Half way through the demolition Gurney stops to reflect on his house of 17 years (Copyright Olive Press)

But he was later told that his house was one of around 350 that were illegally given planning permission by the former mayor, Juan Vera, who landed up with a prison sentence.

He was eventually told it had to be demolished to avoid a six-month prison sentence with the news coming just after his wife died from bowel cancer, at the age of 71. “But thankfully it is now over,” he explained. “It has been going on for so long now, I’ve finally come to terms with what needs to be done. Having it demolished was actually a relief.”

As he still owns the land, he can still live on it – just not in a house. 

EXCLUSIVE by Olive Press: The sad remains of Gurney’s family home, which he shared with his wife. (Copyright Olive Press)

So now the father-of-three is planning a minimalist life staying in a converted van, so that his five dogs still have the space to roam. 

“This land is my home, it is my life and these dogs are all I have left.”

Whether or not he still faces a prison sentence, is yet to be confirmed. 

It is not the first time British expats have had their homes demolished in Andalucia, with the Priors, in Almeria, the most famous victims. 

They still live in the garage of their house today, over 10 years since the house was knocked down in Vera.


Katherine Brook

Katherine Brook joined the Olive Press in June 2021. Originally from the UK, Katherine has worked as a freelance journalist for The Times, Culture Trip and many London based titles. She is also a copywriter for food, drink and fitness brands. She is a keen trail runner, cyclist, and enjoys exploring different food cuisines. Get in touch with a story [email protected]

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