THE AUAN homeowners’ association has accused some Almeria councils of dragging their feet on property regularisation.
AUAN President Maura Hillen made the comments following meetings with the Junta de Andalucia last week.
Hillen and AUAN lawyer and spokesperson Gerardo Vazquez joined other groups from across Andalucia campaigning for a solution to the some 300,000 irregular houses in the region for two-hour talks with regional Development and Territorial Planning minister Marifran Carazo and the Director General of Planning, Maria del Carmen Campagni. The following day the pair met with the Junta’s Development and Territorial Planning Almeria delegate Eloisa Cabrera to focus on the problems with certain municipalities in the province.
They said they were pleased at the level of support from the minister and the delegate and the willingness they expressed on resolving the issue.
“We are rowing in the same direction”, Vazquez commented.
The AUAN president said both Carazo and Cabrera had reiterated that the Regularisation Decree is totally in force and applicable, in spite of the possibility the central government could challenge the regulations in the Constitutional Court; something Hillen maintained “would be disastrous for everybody.”
AUAN is not however happy with what the association president described as “the negativity, if not downright obstruction, shown by some local authorities when it comes to applying the law to grant AFOs, that is to say a municipal permission that allows irregular houses to access basic services and obtain paperwork for humanitarian reasons, and which allows measures to protect the environment to be applied to a house.
“Those affected are very annoyed and frustrated”, she said, adding, “I wouldn’t like to think that they are doing this on purpose, or for reasons they cannot admit to, or that they really do wish to stand on the hose of regularisation.”
Referring specifically to the Almanzora Valley, where AUAN originated, Hillen claimed Arboleas council “has rather unusually and rather surprisingly asked for an opinion from the Consejo Consultivo Andaluz advisory body regarding AFO applications, thus suspending and delaying the processing of such applications.”
It appears Zurgena has now started to process AFOs she said, calling it “good news.”
But Hillen was less positive about Albanchez, a municipality the AUAN representatives discussed with the Junta delegate “to clarify some questions and concerns.”
“We specifically spoke about the fee this council proposes to charge for processing AFOs, a fee that AUAN considers not only to be excessive, but also illegal and a deterrent to applicants as it asks for thousands of euros to issue an AFO for an ordinary house. We have complained to the Town Hall about this, but they are ignoring us”, Hillen affirmed.
She also maintained that “certain voices in this municipality have argued that now is not the time to apply for an AFO given that everything is up in the air, something which is not true, as confirmed by the minister and the delegate.”
“We do not want to waste time squabbling with these Town Halls. We want solutions”, Vazquez stressed.
“But our councils must understand that the decree represents a paradigm shift and the old models no longer fit. Times have changed. They have changed in town planning, just as the regional government has changed, and our local authorities must change also, towards models with greater respect for the basic rights of citizens”, the lawyer argued.
“This is the moment to provide solutions, not to create obstacles.”