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'Happy New Year... we're going to bulldoze your homes'


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'Happy New Year... we're going to bulldoze your homes': British ex-pats in Spain face having their houses torn down


By Gerard Couzens

Last updated at 8:55 AM on 30th December 2009




Britons who sold up to move to Spain are facing homelessness in the New Year after being told their dream homes will be bulldozed.


Police turned up on the doorsteps of nearly a dozen couples just before Christmas to serve them with demolition notices. The properties will be razed before the spring unless a last ditch appeal on human rights grounds saves them.


Shocked victims last night vowed to organise mass protests and blockade themselves in their houses to stop the demolitions being carried out.



article-1239219-07B8EE74000005DC-920_468x325.jpg Demolition order: John and Muriel Burns' home, their 'life's dream'


The homes under threat are near Albox in Almeria, south-east Spain. The local town hall had issued building licences for the properties but they were nullified following court action instigated by a higher regional government.


The Britons say they had no idea their houses had been declared illegal.








Pensioner John Burns, who emigrated from Thackley, West Yorkshire, to Spain with his wife Muriel in December 2001 after suffering a heart attack which forced him to sell his building firm, said: ‘The first I knew of any problems was on December 22 when a police officer knocked at the door and gave me the demolition notice.


article-1239219-07B88C74000005DC-746_235x317.jpg John and Muriel Burns with the demolition order served on Dec 22



‘We have a beautiful three-bed detached house surrounded by olive groves. It’s our life’s dream.


‘The expiry date on the notice is April 9. My wife’s been crying from the day we received it. Our Christmas was ruined.’


Former office worker Christine Payne, who emigrated to Spain in 2000 with her husband Noel from Lewes, East Sussex, added: ‘I feel so angry because we’ve got all our paperwork in order.


‘We’re only finding out now that the building licences issued by the town hall were challenged by the regional government and nullified. No one ever told us or our builder.

'If the bulldozers turn up we’re going to get as many people as we can inside the house to try to stop them. We’re going to get a solicitor but they charge a fortune and all our money’s in our house.


‘I don’t know what we’re going to do if we end up losing it. We’ve only got our state pensions and very small private pensions to survive on.’





Both homes are estimated to be worth about £260,000. Expat support group Abusos Urbanisticos Almanzora No is sponsoring a collective appeal.


Its president, Maura Hillen said: ‘We’ll fight the demolition orders on the basis that these people’s human rights were infringed because they weren’t informed of the legal proceedings against their homes. The situation is very serious and our lawyer shares our opinion.


'The way these orders were served, just before Christmas and without any warning, was very callous.’


British couple Len and Helen Prior saw their £350,000 home in Albox bulldozed two years ago after the regional government revoked a building licence issued by the town hall. They are now living in a converted garage nearby and are yet to receive any compensation.

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