The Junta de Andalucía's general director of Territorial and Urban Planning, Malaga architect José María Morente, says the regional government is open to considering any solution for illegal homes in the countryside, including the possibility of making them legal as has been done in other regions such as Valencia. He says his Ministry has no preconceived ideas about the matter.
What is the priority for Decree 3/2019 regarding illegal properties?
The environment and people. We are concerned about people living in the countryside, in houses that can't be demolished as there are other measures available, because they are contaminating their surroundings and causing tremendous environmental problems. Their situation is illegal and is subject to discipline, but the quality of life of these people, and the environment, has led us to reflect that this cannot go on.
But the owners are asking for their houses to be made legal, not for an environmental problem to be resolved.
That's fine. We are not legalising these properties with this Decree, but the owners have to bear the cost, that is totally clear. They cannot go on damaging the environment.
What does the new regulation do?
It recognises that some homes were built years ago and allows them to have basic services because of the environmental problem.
And how are you going to impose discipline in a situation which arose through a lack of discipline?
That's the million dollar question. Luckily my department isn't responsible for carrying out inspections, the General Secretary of Infrastructure and their inspectors are. But measures need to be taken and they need to be taken now.
Why would the owner of an 'irregular' house, who has electricity and water, apply for it to be regularised when that doesn't make it legal?
If it is an irregular house in the countryside, built years ago, and it has electricity and water, it provides legal security, for example in the case of inheritance, and if it can be made legal in future, so much the better.
The decree also applies to properties classified as 'outside regulation', but so far not many people have taken up that action.
Few people applied because there were a lot of obstacles. The law permitted it, but not for properties built on land not zoned for construction, and some other situations. It wasn't effective because people weren't interested in complications with extra costs involved.
The Decree refers to a new category, 'Asimilado a fuera de ordenación no declarado'. What is that?
It refers to a building for which the period for repositioning has expired, but which was not AFO, used the State law to register the property and the town hall had to say which category it came under. It's to register the fact that they cannot carry out conservation or improvement works and cannot have basic services, although if they already have them we're not going to take them away.
Some regions have decided to make the properties legal.
Yes. In Valencia they have legalised 300,000 buildings on land not zoned for building. They have even legalised those in protected areas, but they did it through a new law. Ours is a decree, not a law.
Have you considered something similar?
We're in a different situation. I believe we have different mechanisms and have to put our pieces in place in another way.
But is the Junta considering a way of making them legal?
At the moment we are just focusing on what we have planned. In the future, who knows? This decree will produce results. We have to wait and see. The problem for those whose situation is not resolved through the decree will have to be studied and analysed, because properties which can't be regularised, like the ones on protected land, also contaminate. The decree is an intermediate step towards the new Land Law.
Are you ruling out a solution like the Valencian one?
We're not ruling anything out, but neither do we want to create expectations which are not certain. There are no preconceived ideas about this matter.
Will it depend on how effective the new decree is?
What people can or can't do will be linked to disciplinary measures. If that works, a whole range of possibilities open up. If it doesn't, I don't see any problem in creating other scenarios in order to avoid a knock-on effect.
What do you mean by discipline?
To stop this happening in future.
Isn't it discriminatory when irregular houses elsewhere are being made legal?
I don't think so. The situations aren't the same. The Valencia case is very recent. Let's see what happens.