The demolition work began last week. / sur

British pensioners' home in Torrox demolished by the council

The local authority was ordered by a judge to knock the house down because it had been built illegally and the owners had failed to comply with a demolition order from 2011

Eugenio Cabezas
EUGENIO CABEZAS

Torrox council has begun to demolish a house owned by a British couple in the rural Santilla area, because what they built did not comply with the licence they were granted by the town hall in 2002 and the property is therefore illegal. The council is acting in compliance with a court order dating back to 2011, which ordered the demolition for an offence against land regulation.

According to the court documents, in the year 2000 the couple bought a 1,451 square metre plot of land with a 21 m2 house in ruins on it. The land is not classified for construction under the Urban Plan, so building is not permitted unless a plot is more than 25,000 m2 in size. In 2002 the owners obtained a licence from the council to reinforce the walls and replace the roof of the ruin, but not increase its size. The licence did permit a swimming pool to be added.

However, what they built was “a new detached family house with a basement, swimming pool and asphalted exterior, with an irregular shape and a surface area of 240 square metres," the papers say.

In 2011 a judge sentenced the couple to eight months in prison, fined them 5,400 euros, banned them from any activities related to construction or property development for one year and ordered them to pay all costs. He also ordered them to demolish the parts of the property that had been built illegally. They did not comply.

Demolition costs 28,700 euros

In September 2021 the court wrote to the town hall and insisted that the property be demolished with no further delay. All that will be left is a 21 m2 building, in accordance with the original licence. The works are costing the council 28,700.56 euros, which the owners are liable to pay.

Their daughter, who wishes to remain anonymous, says the decision to demolish the house is unjust because there are plenty of others in the same area which are not being knocked down. However, in this case she blames a tenant who stopped paying the rent, accused the owners of things they had not done, and put pressure on the council to demolish the property.

“We have paid a lot of money in lawyers’ fees; my parents have been part of this community for 25 years, we acted in good faith following advice from local people, we invested 500,000 euros in building this house and paid a 70,000 euro fine to the town hall. All this is so sad, it’s heartbreaking and very unfair,” she said.