Couple Sentenced and Ordered to Demolish Villa in Torrox
January 24th, 2011
A British couple have been given an eight month suspended sentence and ordered to demolish their Spanish villa for breaching planning regulations.
David and Janet Hartshorn illegally built a large house on protected land near the Costa del Sol town of Torrox, a judge ruled.
The couple appeared before a judge in Malaga last October, with the court’s sentencing just published. The judge ordered them to demolish the house and pay a fine of €5,400.
Speaking at the property in the province of Malaga, Mrs Hartshorn said “This is terrible news, we have a meeting with our solicitor tomorrow. The house was built nine years ago and people are still building houses illegally round here. My husband has said he will take the case all the way to to the European Courts to save the house.”
The couple built the 240m2 house on land which only had permission for a house one tenth that size. In September 2000 they bought a third of an acre of land in Pago de Santilla, near Torrox, on which there was already a tiny ruin of a house of 320 square feet.
In June 2001 they applied for planning permission but were told they could not build anything bigger than the ruin.
The judge’s sentencing report said, “the accused have built a family chalet-style home with a new storey, basement, swimming pool and asphalted exterior perimeter, with an area of approximately 240 square meters.”
In January 2004 the town hall in Torrox ordered the Hartshorns to stop the building work “but despite this the accused continued to carry out the work”, which finished in July 2004, the judge added.
In September 2006 the town hall issued them with a fine of €73,092, which the couple are challenging.
The judge in Malaga said it is not possible to grant the house retrospective planning permission because it is on protected land in Torrox.
He concluded that it was “inconceivable” that individuals should ignore a request to stop building on land which is protected by law from development.
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