A controversial seafront development near Benissa is in doubt after the local council suspended its building licence and ordered a new environmental study.

The news comes after opposition from residents concerned about damage to the unspoilt Tossal de l’Asprar coastline between La Llobella and Els Pinets.

The 55,000 sq/m Patmore Resort would use land already classified as urban and therefore available to develop.

It would feature a 76-bedroom hotel and nine luxury villas which would entail clearing pine forest land close to the sea.

A Tuesday night plenary meeting of Benissa council saw all political parties join forces to pause the project.

Building licences granted to developer Benissa Nature have been suspended for a year, with an option to extend that further.

A landscape study will be commissioned as part of a new urban planning document for Benissa to replace the current one drawn up in 1982.

Benissa’s Territorial Strategy councillor, Isidor Molla, said: “The study will preserve the identity of the territory and the beauty of the coastline.”

It’s a big about-turn for the ruling Partido Popular(PP), who are only in power due to the support of independent councillors like Molla, and have half an eye on May’s municipal elections.

The PP only a week ago insisted construction would go ahead after giving up 16,000 sq/m of green land to the developers after getting environmental guarantees.

Speaking to the Levante newspaper, Benissa’s PP mayor, Arturo Poquet, said: “We have not made any agreement over the project and we have no commitment with Benissa Nature.”

In response to what residents have been saying, Poquet admitted that ‘we must open an in-depth debate without haste’.

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