Steps to shore up the rights of homeowners on the Spanish coast have been backed by West Midlands Lib Dem Euro MP Phil Bennion.

Spanish land grabThe Spanish Government has announced a plan to clarify the law and protect the rights of UK and other EU citizens who have invested in new holiday or retirement home developments.

Many investors have faced ruin after Spanish regional governments declared their coastal properties to have been built without the correct planning permission and then bulldozed them with little or no compensation.

Phil Bennion, Lib Dem MEP for the West Midlands region said: "Thousands of British people including many from this region have moved to Spain for a quiet retirement in the sun and spent their nest eggs in good faith on new villas and apartments.

"Hundreds - including a number of couples who contacted my predecessor MEP Liz Lynne - then fell victim to a loophole in Spanish law where local planning approvals could be over-ruled and developments declared illegal under the Coastal Law. Quite a few homes were demolished without compensation and the owners left without legal redress."

The Spanish Government has now announced a plan to amend the Coastal Law (the Ley de Costas), after protests from MEPs from several countries were backed by the European Commission.
The law was passed to protect scenic areas of coastline from development but has been applied inconsistently, with some homes near seawater canals being declared illegal by regional governments as they were in a 'coastal' zone.

Phil added: "The Spanish authorities have the right to protect their coastline and decide their planning system, but it is also vital that the law in any EU country is clear and consistent for EU citizens who own, or plan to own, property.

"This change shows the new Spanish government has decided to sort out the mess, which is welcome news. It will not only ease the fears of UK citizens who want to live or invest in Spain, it will also boost the Spanish economy and property market.

"The preliminary draft law is available online and is up for consultation. I want to make sure everyone with an interest in the issue understands the changes and has a say."


1) The draft amended law would extend the period of the existing concession to enjoy possession of properties built in the protected zone (public domain) from 30 years to 75 years. It would also introduce the possibility to sell this interest in the property - subject to prior authorisation - and to renovate the buildings situated in this zone, as long as this would not imply a change in the volume, height or surface of the property.In addition, the public administration will be obliged to register the definitive and provisional demarcation line in the property register, so that purchasers will be better informed about whether the property is situated in a protected area and the exact location and extension of this area. The demarcation lines will also be published on the website of the Spanish Ministry for Environment.
2) Spain is home to around 2.3 million citizens from other EU countries, or five per cent of the population. This includes around 367,000 British citizens, 238,000 Germans, 225,000 French, 99,000 Italians, 52,000 Dutch and 17,000 Irish.
3) On July 13, the Spanish government adopted a preliminary draft law to amend the Coastal Law of 1988. An English summary of the proposal is now available on the website of the Spanish Ministry for Environment:
EU Citizens can comment on the draft by emailing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.