Spain tackles building scandals

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The Independent Online

Spain has passed a new land law which will crack down on illegal building scandals which have hit hundreds of British expatriates.

The law will force local councillors to declare any business links and incomes in case they are connected with property developers.

It follows a succession of corruption scandals across the country involving councillors who took backhanders from developers in return for granting illegal building permits.

Last year, hundreds of Britons who bought "dream homes" in Catral, near Alicante, suffered this fate when it was revealed that their villas were illegally built. British expats and other buyers were threatened with having their homes bulldozed.

The Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, said: "The new law will fight radically against corruption."

The law is also intended to curb property speculation, stop the urban sprawl along Spain's Costas and cut the price of land which has stopped millions of Spaniards buying homes in their own country. Since 1997, the price of land has risen 188 per cent.

The new law means 30 per cent of all areas designated for construction must be dedicated to social housing. It is hoped that this will provide more people with the chance to buy affordable homes.