Expat victims of Spanish fires unable to start rebuilding

Published:  29 Nov at 6 PM
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Tagged: Spain, Visas, USA
The ruined lives of expat residents on the Costa del Sol who lost their homes during last summer’s disastrous fires are likely to take years to rebuild due to difficulties obtaining reconstruction permits.

Three months after Malaga’s most devastating fires, many expats are still homeless and unable to get permission to start rebuilding. The fires damaged thousands of acres and many hundreds of homes in an area popular with British expats and retirees.

The delays are being caused by a new law passed in 2011, aimed at regulating building on land not designated for construction. Even in these extenuating circumstances, homeowners are forced to apply for a special building permit which needs to be approved first by the local government, then by Spain’s ruling junta.

Former Mancunian resident Pat Laing has started a campaign aimed at pressurising both the town council and the government. She states that, immediately after the disaster, it was hoped those who lost their homes could begin rebuilding immediately and cope with the bureaucratic necessities at a later date.

Sadly, the junta has ruled that, in spite of the personal tragedies involved, no exceptions can be made. According to Pat, many of those affected are either staying with friends or renting small apartments, fearing that it will be years before they can rebuild.

Sue and Pete Doran built their home nine years ago, and watched as it burnt to the ground with all their possessions. They think they’re lucky to be alive, but are heartbroken that they don’t yet have compensation or permission to rebuild.

Sue told Olive Press she’s heard of couples who’d started rebuilding being forbidden by police from continuing as they’d not had official permission, adding their own land has been cordoned off. The Facebook group Victimas del Inciendo welcomes both those affected and those who may be able to help.
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