The Junta de Andalucía government has moved to quash some of the excitement among owners of irregular rural homes and local town halls over the new land planning law for Andalucía - the so-called LISTA, due to come into force later this month and reported in SUR in English last week (3-9 December).
Among the measures inside this long-awaited regional law, which is designed to speed up planning processes and boost the local economy, is a relaxing of restrictions on building in the countryside.
Until now, it was forbidden to build isolated homes on rural land unless theses were linked directly to agriculture.
Faced with criticism that the laxer rules will give carte blanche to concrete over the countryside, the regional government has called for calm and said it will announce a set of detailed regulations based on the overarching new LISTA law later next year. These will clarify the conditions for building in rural areas. Among other things, these will set the minimum plot size, percentage of the plot that can be built on, height and distance from other properties.
In reference to the hope of many owners of properties built irregularly on rural land, outside previous planning laws, the Junta's head of Territorial and Urban Planning María del Carmen Compagny, told SUR this week, "this is not an amnesty", explaining that the vast majority of "illegal" homes are not going to be able to meet the requirements, adding, "Besides, to legalise they will also have to pay 15% [of the cost of the building] as compensation to the town hall."
From now, new standalone homes will be allowed, providing they meet size restrictions and don't lead to a new built-up area forming. Builders will pay the local town hall 15% of the value of the construction to compensate for the loss of rural land. In addition, town halls can stop protected areas being built on
On a positive note, the new law will mean that homes which remain irregular (the so called FAOs - 'fuera de ordenación') can carry out some improvement work and where there are several in the same area, town halls will be able to carry out work to improve services for them.
A further upside of the new LISTA is that under-utilised older rural properties should be able to get a new lease of life more easily and not have to be replaced with newer constructions.