CANARIAN politicians are frantically seeking ways of protecting the islands from the nationwide wave of demolition of properties in the coast. The Coalición Canaria and Partido Popular, which share power in the islands, are proposing a change in the provincial government’s territorial planning law to save homes and buildings “of historical interest”. This, they believe, would “soften” the action of the national government’s coastal department in its interpretation of the Law of Coasts, enacted in 1988.
Under this legislation properties built within 100m of any Spanish coastline were declared illegal and liable to demolition. But huge resentment has grown over the way the coastal department is applying the law to older buildings.
The department, part of the environment ministry, has adopted a ‘get-tough’ policy, bringing in the bulldozers at dozens of seaside locations around the country. The Canaries are also affected but the proposals for the Canarian parliament, set out by the Coalicion Canaria’s José Miguel González and the Partido Popular’s Cristina Tavío are being seen as too little, too late, with demolitions already being carried out.
The two parties want to adapt the law to re-classify rural settlements as urban areas because, over the years, they have grown to be towns with all the associated infrastructure. The parties say the Canarian government should produce a census of buildings of particular value, historic, architectural or picturesque, for example. That way, they argue, owners would be able to argue their case against demolition as provided for in the Law of Coasts.
The PP’s Cristina Tavío said the proposals were in reaction to the “perverse” application of the law, with the department refusing to discuss or negotiate with the town halls or individuals to avoid demolitions.
For the CC, González said the situation would never have come to this if planning matters for coastal areas had been left to the Canarian government.
González said: “This measure does in no way seek to legalise new constructions or illegally constructed urban developments. But it does aim to protect owners of older homes which have been inherited.”
Canarian environmental spokesman for the national government’s ruling PSOE, Manuel Fajardo, dismissed the proposals as “no more than electioneering”, saying: “This measure could have been proposed years ago if they really thought it was valid.”
Fajardo called the CC and PP “irresponsible”, saying the matter was just another chapter in the Canarian parliament’s strategy of confrontation with national government. While the politicians argue the demolitions go on. The coastal village of Cho Vito, on the shoreline at Candelaria, is believed to be imminent.
It was confirmed in the BOP, the Official Bulletin of the Canaries of January 15, when the coastal department published the final demolition order, leaving no further possibility of appeal.
On January 17 the department ordered the demolition of the La Punta workshops, a building constructed in 1929 on the beach of the same name, in San Sebastián de La Gomera.
In 2016, houses built illegally at the Los Guirres Beach, Tazacorte, were knocked down and their owners fined between €1,000 and €5,000, depending on the size of the property. The Hotel El Médano, in Granadilla, was constructed before 1988 and is right on the beach with a sundeck built on stilts out into the sea.
Its demolition and replacement with a public sunbathing area is already being planned and remains the subject of fierce opposition by residents.