A RETIRED British couple are set to have their house demolished on Monday, after a failed ten year legal battle.

David and Janet Hartshorn finished completing their dream home in Torrox in 2003. 

They were assured by legal advisors that they were able to build on the land they had bought and so they began work on building their dream retirement home, comprised of four bedrooms, a lounge, and kitchen.

However, only a short time after it was completed, they were contacted by the council who informed them that their activities were illegal

This led to a ten-year-legal battle during which the couple battled red tape, launched countless appeals and racked up substantial legal fees.

But the Hartshorn’s work was all for nothing and they were served an eviction notice nine months ago. 

The Town Hall have confirmed to the couple that bulldozers will arrive on Monday at 9am to begin demolishing most of their property, leaving only an uninhabitable 20-square-metre annex, the only part of the house deemed to be legally owned by the pair.

David Real
The house that is scheduled for bulldozing on Monday.
Photo: David Hartshorn.

David, 71, told the Olive Press that he had offered to give up the house to Ukrainian refugees, but still the Town Hall refused.

“It’s very distressing,” the couple told the Olive Press.

“We have put all our life savings into this work, and now it is all going to be taken away.”

The couple moved to Spain 20 years ago, having been pub landlords in Cheshire for 40 years. 

“We have lots of friends over here, but they don’t know what to say to us.”
Despite the couple’s stoicism – David jokingly asks if he can borrow a caravan or a tent – they have no idea what they will do come Monday. 

Swimming Pool
The swimming pool of the Hartshorne’s home, also set to be demolished.
Photo: David Hartshorn.

The case echoes that of the Len and Helen Prior along the coast in Almeria who watched as bulldozers rolled in and flattened their dream home after it was deemed illegal by the town hall in Vera. 

For thirteen years they have lived in the garage on the plot, which was deemed the only legal construction, while they have mounted a legal battle that eventually declared that the demolition had been illegal.

The Olive Press has previously reported on 30,000 homes in Andalucia that were retroactively made legal in urban planning law change.

But such a law has not been extended to the Cheshire couple. 

“Only a miracle can save the house now,” they said.


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