On Monday 20th September representatives of the homeowner’s association, AUAN, appeared before a cross party commission in the Parliament of Andalusia in Seville to comment on the proposed new planning law for Andalusia, known as the LISTA. AUAN was among a list of invited “social agents” and was represented in the hearings by its legal advisor Gerardo Vázquez and its spokesperson, Maura Hillen.
According to Gerardo Vázquez “The representatives of the different political groups in the Development Commission were very welcoming. We informed them that we viewed this new parliamentary bill favourably and that we appreciated the work of the Ministry, which had shown both a capacity to work and an understanding of the issue of irregular houses. We also thanked the other political groups for the reforms that they had made possible in the past. I believe that there is now no doubt that the maximum number of houses in Andalusia need to be regularized as quickly and as efficiently as possible, unless they exist in areas of natural risk, etc. I believe that there is consensus in this viewpoint and I think that urban planning is an area that deserves this consensus”.
Apart from this clear support of the LISTA, Sr. Vázquez said that a series of suggestions were also made that, in his opinion, could improve the text of the law. Among them AUAN suggested that the rules should not be so restrictive regarding what works could be performed on these types of houses. Also, the text should clearly state that the Junta can urge Town Councils to start the procedure to regularize these houses. According to AUAN, this suggestion is motivated by its complaint that some Town Hall are proving themselves to be reluctant to regularize houses.
Gerardo Vázquez was accompanied in the commission by the ex-president of AUAN, Maura Hillen, who acted as spokesperson on this occasion. She said “Apart from what Sr. Vazquez had to say, I personally highlighted our support for the provision in the text to create a sub corps of planning inspectors because nobody wants to see a repetition of the excesses of the past. In fact, this proposal was previously made by the then member for Izquierda Unida, Inmaculada Nieto. We found it interesting at the time and we publicly support it today. We also think that it is great that the law proposes that it should become mandatory that the existence of planning proceedings against a property should be registered at the Land Registry. To sum up, things are being done in Andalusia with regard to illegal houses and people from other autonomous communities should start to take an interest in what is happening here in order to solve problems in their own territories. We think that the region of Murcia, for example, should adopt similar solutions.
Apart from commenting on the parliamentary bill, AUAN also asked those present in the commission for two things which they believe will help people on the ground. The first is the provision of a specific service in the Ministry of Development dedicated to providing fast and efficient responses to planning consultations, where citizens can easily go to ask for advice and information.
The other request of AUAN was the implementation of one of the conclusions of the Auken Report of 2009 regarding the impact of extensive development in Spain and the individual rights of citizens. This report was written after a series of petitions to the European Parliament, including a petition from AUAN. The report urged “the [Spanish] national and regional authorities to establish operational… administrative mechanisms that involve regional ombudsmen to resolve disputes in urban planning”. To implement this requirement, AUAN requests a mediation service for planning issues headed by the Andalusian Ombudsman in collaboration with a representative of the Junta, the town halls and those affected.
It has been stated that the LISTA will become law before the end of this year and those affected hope that it will be.