Town planning in Marbella has just stepped back 30 years: the Supreme Court has laid down three sentences which annul the 2010 revision of the Urban Plan (PGOU). This means that from now on the town will have to comply with the terms of the 1986 Plan, which had been in force before approval was given for the one which has now been declared invalid.
The Supreme Court’s decision is a major setback for the incipient recovery of the construction sector in Marbella, because the Town Hall will no longer be able to grant licences in accordance with the 2010 PGOU. It also means that the future of 16,500 homes which were built illegally is in limbo, because the Plan had included a way of making them legal via a system of compensation. The Supreme Court rejected this idea on the grounds that the technicians who drew up the Plan did not have the powers to deal with such matters.
Although the Supreme Court decided that this compensation system cannot now be put into effect, it failed to provide any alternative and only mentioned that it is up to the Superior Justice Tribunal of Andalucía to decide what should be done with regard to legal decisions which had already been made about the properties - for example, demolition orders - and other judicial decisions. It made no reference whatsoever to any of the cases of illegal constructions which are not currently the subject of legal proceedings.
The sentences, which found in favour of various appeals presented, do not allow the slightest margin for interpretation, because they nullify the order given by the Junta de Andalucía’s Minister of Housing and Land Organisation of February 2010, which gave definitive approval to the revision of the Plan, and the subsequent order for that approval to be published.
The Supreme Court based its decision on six factors, two of which are sufficient on their own to determine that the Plan overall is null and void: the lack of a valid Environmental Impact Study, because the existing one does not include an analysis of different reasonable alternatives, and the lack of a report on Economic Sustainability.
The Supreme Court highlighted the lack of rationale and sense in a PGOU for Marbella without these essential elements. It said that in reality the 2010 Urban Plan ‘looks more to the past than to the future, thereby distorting the central elements of caution, prediction, prevention and economic and environmental planning. It is those factors which make the missing reports obligatory.’