Decree 2/2012 of the Junta de Andalucía, which aims to regulate buildings which exist on land which is not classified for construction, is failing to convince the owners of illegal properties in the countryside of La Axarquía region. In fact, ten months after the new regulations came into force, their effect has been practically non-existent as the majority of owners of illegal houses have not applied for them to be made legal. Nor are the local councils playing their part. Very few of them have drawn up the report on illegal settlements which will help in making the properties legal.
This is a document which is required by the decree, which stipulates that in the absence of an Urban Plan the Town Halls should supply details of their future planning, to identify the places which have a high concentration of buildings on land not zoned for construction. Nor have most of the councils drawn up the regulations about minimum conditions of habitation and sanitation with which all illegal properties will have to comply.
The reason for this is that many of them are waiting for the Junta to approve the guidelines which will help Town Halls to set up their general urban plans or, in the absence of that regulation, their municipal bylaws.
Although there is considerable concern among the owners of illegal properties, the reality is that nearly one year after the Decree came into force, very few of them have approached their Town Halls to ask for their homes to be made legal, some of them because the Town Halls have advised them not to do so and others because the owners are not in agreement with the solutions which are being offered to them by the Junta.
One example is that of Alcaucín, where there are about 1,800 illegal properties but only two owners have applied to have their homes made legal. The council is waiting for the regional government to approve the advance plans which it hopes will resolve the situation of about 500 properties.
For the owners of many illegal houses, the problem with the decree is that it only offers them recognition that their properties are outside regulation, something which they say means they cannot be made legal and therefore resolves nothing. In municipalities such as Alcaucín, where 90 per cent of the properties which were built on land not zoned for construction had been granted a municipal licence, the owners are not prepared to renounce their licences in order for their properties to be declared outside regulation. In La Axarquía region there are an estimated 20,000 illegally-built houses and other buildings, while the number in the province totals about 50,000.