Couple's dream Spanish home demolished by planning officials after villa was built by rogue developer without permission

  • John and Jan Brooks spent £170,000 on the three-bedroom property
  • They were forced to move out months after buying the hillside home
  • Bulldozers moved in and destroyed the villa after an eight-year battle
  • Developer who duped the couple into buying it is declared bankrupt
  • Couple from Taunton, Somerset, have returned to Britain for good

By Lucy Osborne

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When they bought a luxury holiday villa in Spain, John and Jan Brooks were looking forward to long, peaceful summers there with their family.

But their dream turned into a nightmare when officials told them the home had to be demolished because it had been built illegally.

After an eight-year legal battle to keep the £170,000 property, it has now been bulldozed. All that remains is a pile of rubble and an empty pool.

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Destruction: John and Jan Brooks, from Taunton, Somerset, bought the three-bedroom villa on a hillside near Cantoria, Andalusia, for around £150,000. However, it was built without permission and has now been demolished

Destruction: John and Jan Brooks, from Taunton, Somerset, bought the three-bedroom villa on a hillside near Cantoria, Andalusia, for around £170,000

Destroyed: John and Jan Brooks bought the three-bedroom property for ¿200,000 euros which is around £170,000

Destroyed: John and Jan Brooks bought the property for 200,000 euros which is around £170,000

Demolition: John and Jan Brooks' dream £150,000 three-bedroom villa in Cantoria, Andalusia, is bulldozed because it had been built without permission by a rogue developer

Demolition: John and Jan Brooks' dream £170,000 three-bedroom villa in Cantoria, Andalusia, is bulldozed because it had been built without permission by a rogue developer

Mr and Mrs Brooks used their pension money to buy the hillside villa in Cantoria, Andalucia in 2005.

The couple planned to enjoy their retirement there but within a year they were told they would have to leave because the property had been built without planning permission.

The house was one of four illegally built on restricted land in the Sierra de los Filabres, which were all bought by unsuspecting British expats

Mr Brooks, 73, a retired sales manager, of Taunton in Somerset, said: ‘There are no words to adequately describe our anger at the greedy, selfish, corrupt creatures who caused this situation.

'It was beautiful and all that remains now is a dust-filled swimming pool.

SPANISH DREAM THAT HAS TURNED TO A NIGHTMARE FOR BRIT EXPATS

  Attracted by the year-round sunshine and low property prices, thousands of retired expats have swapped Britain for Spain.

But scores have lost out to the country's planning red tape.

Helen and Len Prior were left living in their demolished garage in Vera, Almenia, after their villa was knocked down. Their property had planning permission but it was knocked down because of 'irregularities' in 2008.

Days later, officials demolished 10 more properties in the area - including at least four that belonged to British expats.

David and Janet Hartshorn were sentenced to eight months in prison in 2011 and ordered to demolish their home after it was built on protected land in Torrox, east of Malaga.

'It had magnificent huge wooden doors and a massive roof terrace on top where you could have had a party for 50 people, it was so huge.

'It was in a stunning spot, that's why we were tempted by it. It was our pension and a place where in happy times we enjoyed great times with our family.

'We feel so angry about what has happened. Now it is has been torn from the ground. Even the rubble has gone.

The property was built by developer Francisco Pedrosa who was handed a five-month suspended jail term last year.

He was also ordered to give the duped expats full compensation. However, the couple fear they have no prospect of getting their money back as Pedrosa has since declared himself bankrupt.

Local mayor Pedro Llamas also illegally authorised the supply of water and electricity to the home and also received a suspended prison term.

Ruins: The remains left after the British couple had their villa in Andalusia knocked down because it was built without permission

Ruins: The remains left after the British couple from Taunton, Somerset, had their villa in Andalusia knocked down because it was built without permission

Poolside debris: The three-bedroom villa cost the British couple £150,000. Now they will have to try and recover their savings

Poolside debris: The three-bedroom villa cost the British couple £170,000. Now they will have to try and recover their savings

Splash: A man jumps into the swimming pool at the Spanish villa - but the property has now been destroyed after a court order

Splash: A man jumps into the swimming pool at the Spanish villa - but the property has now been destroyed after a court order

John and wife Jan, 70, a retired PA, first bought a home on the island of Menorca 13 years ago but decided to sell up in 2005 and invest the cash in a mainland retreat.

They bought the house inland from Almeria for 180,000 and spent a further 20,000 on a beautiful kitchen and huge pool.

Llamas challenged his conviction but the supreme court upheld a two-year suspended prison sentence and he was forced to give up public office for 23 months.

 

Remains: John and Jan Brooks' possessions lie abandoned on the hillside near where their three-bedroom villa stood

Remains: John and Jan Brooks' possessions lie abandoned on the hillside near where their three-bedroom villa stood

Remains: The demolition team were called in after a court in Almeria ordered on Monday that the properties built without permission must be destroyed

Remains: The demolition team were called in after a court in Almeria ordered on Monday that the properties built without permission must be destroyed

The local government sent in their own machines to flatten their home on Monday and the remaining two illegally-built houses are set to be torn down in the coming days.

Campaigners estimate corrupt developers built 300,000 illegal properties during a ten-year housing boom in Spain.

Angry John said: 'We have no intention of ever setting foot in Spain again.

'Why should we spend money in Spain and give them the pleasure of having any more of my money? Never again.'

Unlucky couple: John and Jan Brooks had intended to spend three months a year in their Spanish hillside retreat

Unlucky couple: John and Jan Brooks had intended to spend three months a year in their Spanish hillside retreat

Before: John and Jan Brooks entertain friends at their Spanish villa - but it has now been reduced to rubble

Before: John and Jan Brooks entertain friends at their Spanish villa - but it has now been reduced to rubble


The comments below have not been moderated.

So desperate to leave uk they are willing to sign anything.

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Unlucky

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uyyu

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.....they left their brains on the plane coming over.....like so many others !!

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Stupid is as stupid does. My hubby worked an estate agent in Paterna, Valencia in 2003 and said the Brits are the biggest suckers.

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Buyer beware !

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A few hundred euros spent on a lawyer will save thousands later ................. should on the face of it be good advice, but my Spanish work colleagues say that there are lawyers working hand in pocket of rogue developers - the graft in Spain is truly enormous.

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That was the case, but not any longer. Planning applications have been taken out of the hands of local councils and is now under the control of the Hacienda (state)

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The golden rule in Spain, as indeed anywhere, is to be very suspicious of anything being offered cheap, or with incomplete documentation. A few hundred euros spent on a lawyer will save thousands later, and the Land Registry should be able to tell you if a house has been legitimately constructed and can be legally occupied. My wife and I bought a smallholding near Alicante from a large Spanish family, and even within that family there was wrangling over the true ownership of it, and our lawyer found that it had been registered in two different places under different names.

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I've noticed that comments towards the last page or pages are missing on some DM articles.

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Boy ---you students are smart. You have to click the "view all" Button at the top of the listings.

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Made a mistake - move on!! Honestly who cares.....

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Not everything in life is about you. You move on!

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