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Hope for expats hit by Spanish homes row

THOUSANDS of Irish expats in Spain are set to benefit from a new amnesty on illegally-built homes.

More than 11,000 homeowners living in fear of the bulldozer will be able to legalise properties in the Axarquia region of Andalucia in southern Spain.

But regional government bosses say they cannot guarantee the future of more than 850 houses built on protected land and another 970 built illegally in the past four years.

The amnesty was announced this week after a council study of the area, a part of Malaga province popular with Irish and British expats.



Corrupt

Most of the expats arrested were sold houses which had been approved by corrupt town hall politicians but were later ruled illegal by regional planning chiefs.

Many live without running water, mains electricity and proper sanitation because their properties do not officially exist.

Philip Smalley, president of residents' group Save Our Homes Axarquia, said: "It is absolutely a step in the right direction."

It is not yet clear whether homeowners will have to pay for their homes to be recognised.

Campaigners insist they will continue to fight the demolition without prior compensation of any properties outside of the amnesty.

British pensioners Len and Helen Prior are yet to receive a single penny three years after their £590,000 (e686,000) home in Vera, Almeria, was razed to the ground.

hnews@herald.ie