PROPERTY CRISIS

Alicante’s plundered new homes

Local activists are documenting looted unsold properties to raise awareness of untrammeled building

These houses in Callosa de Segura were being sold for over €100,000 several months ago.
These houses in Callosa de Segura were being sold for over €100,000 several months ago.

Dozens of new buildings that never got sold in Alicante province are being stripped bare by thieves who take away everything they can carry, leaving behind nothing but crumbling walls and roofs.

“Copper, doors, iron ... they’ve taken everything,” says Moisés Cruz, a member of the Plataforma Anticorrupción Defensa de la Huerta, a group that raises awareness about the effects of speculation and untrammeled construction in La Vega Baja, an area in southern Alicante.

Members of the group have spent the last year documenting the negative consequences by taking photographs of derelict buldings put up during the real estate boom, then left to their fate after the property crash.

A salient example is to be found as you head into the town of Almoradí, where a residential building is now inhabited by drug addicts and graffiti artists. In Callosa de Segura what was once “a unique opportunity” to buy duplexes for anywhere between €100,000 and €200,000 has now been stripped of its bathrooms. In Benferri, the wind blows through the roofs of bungalows whose wiring disappeared long ago. The list goes on. The homes are now owned by the banks, and in some cases even the construction cranes were left behind on the site. Some of the properties were never used to begin with, while others were abandoned, such as the four-star Villa De Catral Hotel Spa, which shut down in 2010.

Rubble is all that remains in the 65 rooms of this abandoned spa hotel.
Rubble is all that remains in the 65 rooms of this abandoned spa hotel.

“These buildings look like they were bombed in a war,” notes Cruz. “They are the product of overly ambitious zoning plans.” In Orihuela, the capital of La Vega Baja, there are over 15,000 illegal homes.

Common sense has been sorely lacking in the development plans of many towns. In early 2014, the Valencia regional government refused Almoradí permission to rezone land in order to build 11,000 more new homes and bring in an estimated 50,000 new residents into this town of 20,000.

Around the same time, the regional High Court canceled plans to build 40,000 homes for 100,000 new residents in San Miguel de Salinas, a village of around 7,000.

Rules
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS