The municipal boundary war between Benalmádena and Fuengirola is starting to sort itself out after years of argument between the two neighbouring local authorities. The Junta de Andalucía regional government has told both town halls that the border set in 1874 will be "definitive and immovable".
The decision means that Benalmádena is due back some 74,000 square metres in the El Higuerón area, the upper part of both municipalities close to the A-7 motorway.
Mayor of Benalmádena, Víctor Navas, has offered Fuengirola "a roundtable negotiation" to sort out the "historic, monetary and moral" debt he claims the adjoining town now has with Benalmádena.
The dispute is particularly important as Benalmádena will be getting back some lucrative developed land and the revenue from building permits and IBI municipal tax. Navas said that if "an agreement" couldn't be reached with Fuengirola on compensation, then he would take the matter to court.
Fuengirola can still appeal the Junta's decision to the regional supreme court and has already said that it is in no mood to give away a single metre. Mayor Ana Mula pointed out that Benalmádena hasn't looked after the area in dispute for decades and that the Junta hasn't taken into account the reality of the current situation.
The problem started when Benlamádena's PGOU master town plan published in the early 1980s missed off the land in El Higuerón which was subsequently spotted as a mistake by local planners. Fuengirola took advantage of the omission to add the forgotten land to its own PGOU plan in 2006.
Now the Junta says that an old agreement in 1874 to settle the boundary in the Sierra Mijas area, which also involved Mijas, is the real legal border that Fuengirola and Benalmádena have to stick to.
Once an unimportant hillside, the coming of the motorway has meant the area has been developed with luxury villas, and now Benalmádena wants those homes back, along with the revenue they generate in local taxes.