“AT last!” was the AUAN housing association’s reaction to the Andalucia government’s announcement on measures dealing with the irregular property problem.
AUAN President Maura Hillen and the Almanzora Valley-based association’s spokesman Gerardo Vazquez were in the Andalucia parliament last week to hear Junta Development and Territorial Planning Minister Marifran Carazo describe proposals to address the situation of the region’s estimated 300,000 properties which fail to comply with current planning regulations.
The measures are designed, AUAN said, to bring relief to homeowners and minimise environmental damage while a fundamental rewrite of the Planning Law (LOUA), is underway.
Having reviewed existing legislation, the first step, the regional minister explained, would be the issue of a clarifying instruction to allow officials to expand the granting of an AFO certificate (a form of legal recognition) to more irregular homes. The instruction was signed on May 31 and is now in force.
Secondly, the minister announced the government was planning to amend specific articles of the existing planning law via a decree to further expand access to AFOs to homeowners awaiting legalisation via a town plan so they too can access basic services and register their houses while waiting for a town plan to be approved and executed.
The Junta’s Council of Ministers would approve the decree before the end of the current parliamentary session in August, Carazo stated.
In addition, she explained, the Andalucia government proposes dealing with the “more complex” problem of irregular housing estates, or “asentamientos”, without having to wait for the “lengthy process” of the approval and execution of a town plan (PGOU).
This would be achieved through the introduction of “planes especiales”, or special plans, which function independently of the town plan and establish solutions tailored to each estate. The minister emphasised the costs of these plans would be met by the property owners.
AUAN said it understood a special plan would be applied if it is deemed impractical to legalise an irregular estate due to its physical characteristics or distance from existing urban centres.
Even more important than what the minister announced, according to Gerardo Vazquez, was the “clear and convincing willingness” to resolve the irregular houses problem.
Maura Hillen echoed Vazquez’s optimism on political will.
“Witnessing the minister’s statement to parliament and the response of the various political parties it is clear that we now have consensus to put an end to this problem once and for all. And we have a government that is prepared to listen to the associations and take the necessary realistic and practical steps”, the AUAN President affirmed.
“This is not the end of the road, but I believe it is the beginning of the end.”