Aerial photographs used by inspectors

Increased building control

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Building on rural land without licence is not always worthwhile. Some resolutions of the island Consortium on urban discipline translate into demolitions and large fines. The Consortium is an organ created in Menorca by agreement of all the town councils and the Consell Insular to avoid uncontrolled building on rural land. Its creation was decided after the repeated inability, both technically and politically, by the town councils to tackle this problem, which after a while resulted in the hundreds of illegal buildings becoming very difficult to manage.

The Consortium also acted on its own accord, but GOB received periodic notices from people who saw suspicious works being carried out in the countryside. GOB would check and if it seemed that an infraction was being committed, they passed on the information to the Consortium to ask that the legality of the activity be investigated.

A good number ended with demolition orders and added fines. In cases relating to housing built without licence, the demolition was at the cost of the owners, and some fines were over 50,000 euros for works carried out near roads or between areas of kitchen gardens.

There are also cases that although not so large are equally significant. Five years ago, GOB advised the Consortium that there were some places in the Parc Natural that had increased their size. The urbanization is called Shangrila, and in the seventies various roads were opened, a golf course started and a fairly large number of buildings constructed all of which were illegal. Public outcry stopped further development and because the area was declared protected any building on it was by definition without planning permission. People were given a maximum time to be evicted, they could not make any improvements and finally the buildings would have to be demolished.

The official complaint made by GOB in 2014 was very controversial, particularly because at that time there were hidden pressures trying to legalize the buildings. The owners denied the facts and the government at that time did not start any proceedings.

But time has been passing and the aerial photographs shown above have been verified by the inspectors. At least five proceedings have been opened because of the enlargement of houses in Shangrila and some have already received a demolition order and included a fine. It has to be remembered that some of these cases are works carried out in protected rustic land, declared a Natural Park, ANEI (Area of Special Natural Interest) and Nature Network 2000.

Building control is fundamental in order to avoid speculation affecting the region, such as occurred in the eighties with the illegal building on kitchen gardens. It is essential that the Consortium does its work. But even more important it is necessary that people know that in Menorca building infringements can be very expensive and it seems that large negotiations can end with a huge headache. Prevention is the best policy.