A massive meeting, organised by AUAN and Albanchez Residents Association (ARA), took place in Albanchez on Monday 15th January to ask for an urgent and once and for all solution to the issue of illegal houses in the Valley of Almanzora, as well as the rest of Andalusia.
The cultural centre in Albanchez was packed with many attendees having to stand. The meeting was not only attended by residents of Albanchez but also by residents from other municipalities in the Valley.
The lawyer and spokesperson for AUAN, Gerardo Vazquez, was one of the organizers of the meeting which was chaired by Estanislao Beltran, the president of Albanchez Residents Association.
The panel also consisted of Maura Hillen, president of AUAN; Marta Bosquet, member of the Andalusian parliament and the national executive of Ciudadanos; Francisco Ramos, provincial coordinator of Ciudadanos; Eduardo Amor, planning lawyer; Benedicto Bonil, technical architect and Ronnie Howley, town planner. Also present were the coordinators of Ciudadanos in Cuevas de Almanzora and Albox.
In the meeting, those affected insisted that houses on asentamientos (houses waiting to be legalized via a town plan) should be allowed to obtain a form of permission known as an AFO which would at least allow them to register ownership of their property and have peace of mind whilst the legalization process, which can take up to 10 years, is ongoing.
Gerardo Vazquez explained during the meeting that there was talk of an amendment to give provisional services to houses on asentamientos for a period of two years but in his opinion “these sort of provisional licenses for such short periods of time are of little use, and are certainly of little use to the houses in the Valley of Almanzora. I believe that this is the third provisional licence that I have seen since 2012 and the last ones did not work. And the type of provisional licence suggested does nothing to solve the problem of the lack of escrituras (deeds).
To solve this problem an AFO is required. And we are not just saying this now. We said this before during the last reform of the planning laws, when we explained that there was a gap in the last reform because it did not provide a solution for asentamientos. This is what we are asking for now, simply and plainly, an AFO for houses on asentamientos”.
He said, “We cannot continue with half-hearted solutions at this stage. It is time to be brave and to take the bull by the horns once and for all. It breaks my heart to see elderly people meeting at this time of the evening, asking yet again for a solution to the problems that they are unjustly suffering. And worst of all is that many of the people that we have seen before in these gatherings are no longer here because they have died whilst waiting for a sensible solution to this planning Calvary.
Many have embargos on their houses, because they are in the name of a promoter with economic difficulties, which of course is of great concern. It is not logical that other houses in similar conditions are permitted to obtain deeds via an AFO, whilst they cannot because of some byzantine distinction between groups of houses on parcelaciones and these houses in asentamientos.
The law has to be just to merit the name. And practical solutions have to be found that are relevant to the daily life of the people, and now is the time to provide practical solutions for the planning situation in the Valley of Almanzora”.