In 2002 the Ley de Ordenacion Urbanistica de Andalucia was introduced and came into force on January 20, 2003. Known as the LOUA, this law is the legislative framework for urban planning and inserts town planning into the larger context for territorial planning (See Sub Regional Plan, Territorial Plan).
The principle planning instrument of the LOUA is the town plan or Plan General de Ordenacion Urbana (PGOU).
The PGOU and Urban Chaos in the Almanzora Valley
For a variety of reasons, (cost, technical complexity, inter-party politics and alleged corruption) key towns in the Almanzora Valley failed to produce comprehensive, approved PGOUs in compliance with the new regulations. There is not much evidence that the Junta de Andalucia enforced the new regulations. In the meantime, the construction boom of the early nineties swept through the valley, creating perfect conditions for the blight of urban chaos.
Illegal houses, power cuts, water shortages, smelly drains, bad roads, inadequate schooling and queues in the urgencia are not ‘flavours’ of life in the Almanzora Valley. They are the consequence of a uncontrolled and improperly planned construction boom which stretched existing resources to breaking point.
In 2006 Ecologistas en Action began to denounce the impact of uncontrolled speculation on this beautiful valley to SEPRONA (the environmental division of the guardia civil).
|See:||Albox ,||Arboleas ,||Partaloa ,||Zurgena|
Seprona began to investigate the matter and the true scale of the problem began to emerge.
The AUAN was formed in late 2006 and in January 2007, foreign homeowners staged a protest march in Albox to express their disquiet. The scandal began to emerge and it continues to this day.
What is happening now?
In September 2008 in response to pressure from various sources including the AUAN, the Planning Inspectorate of the Junta de Andalucia stepped into the fray.
The Inspection Plan (A census of the legal
status of houses in the Almanzora Valley)
The Junta de Andalucia met with the AUAN and announced the commencement of the process to ‘regularise’ the situation. The first act of this process was an inspection of all of the houses in the towns of Albox, Cantoria, Oria, Partaloa, Arboleas, Albanchez, Lubrín and Zurgena.
This process is currently nearing conclusion and latest figures from the Junta de Andalucia indicate that 11,000 illegal houses have been identified to date.
The findings of the inspection will inform the regularisation process.
The authorities are at pains to state that they are working together to create town plans in a serious effort to rectify this situation and that 90% of the illegal houses will be ‘regularised’.
Amendment to LOUA to allow existing plans
to be adapted to the new legislation
In 2008 the Junta de Andalucia modified the LOUA to allow a town council to adapt an existing town plan to the new legislation. The adaptation process is relatively straightforward. Once an adapted plan is in place, the council can proceed to make ‘puntual’, or small, modifications to the adapted plan.
Town plans are beginning to emerge
If you have, or think you have, an illegal house you should pay attention to this process. AUAN members register their location details and we do our best to monitor emerging plans on their behalf.
The PGOU is a town plan. It sets out proposals by a Town Hall administration for the general development of the municipality over a stipulated period of time.
A plan must be in line with Municipal and Regional Government laws, e.g. the Territorial Plan for Andalucia (POTA) involving a series of land and other laws which cover various aspects e.g. infrastructure, protection of parkland, forests, rural land, water requirements, apportioning of land for industrial and residential urbanisations and many other considerations.
The PGOU is a multi-faceted, complicated plan which must go through several stages, including various public consultation processes which allow for objections, amendments, etc. The Plan must obtain final approval from the Regional Government, the Junta De Andalucia.
A full PGOU is expensive (costing hundreds of thousands of euros) and takes time (2 years+) to produce.
The public consultation period for any changes to town plans are announced by law on the Boletin Oficial de la Provencia Official bulletins of the Province
Your rights with respect to the PGOU
- You have the right to go to your town hall and ask to see a copy of the PGOU for your area.
- Article 6 of the 1998 Law guarantees the right of public participation in the planning and administration processes, as well as the right of information for affected parties at every stage of proceedings. Other articles establish the “generic” duty of town halls to ensure maximum participation from residents – sadly lacking in practice in our experience. Your rights have been strengthened in this respect in the 2007 Ley de Suelo legislation.
- When a new PGOU is being formulated and the Advance PGOU is issued, you have the right, during the consultation period, to issue an objection (alegacion) to any aspect of the plan. A simple objection can be made at no cost. You simply obtain a form from your town hall.
- If you object to any aspect of the plan, and your objection is ignored, you can issue a legal objection to the plan, effectively asking the courts to arbitrate between you and your town council. This course of action can cost a considerable amount of money.