The Supreme Court has ratified the ruling of the Andalucian Supreme Court (TSJA) ruling that the Junta de Andalucía’s attempt to change the natural park of Cabo de Gata to permit the opening of the El Algarrobico hotel is unlawful.
The Junta’s plan was slip in a quiet change of use of land into the natural parks planning outline – which is, for comic effect, known as the PORN- which would designate the land the hotel was built on to be called “dual use for tourism and natural land”. Had nobody noticed, then this would have meant the hotel could have opened. However, someone did notice, and an umbrella group of ecologists appealed to the courts for a ruling.
The Supreme Court has now upheld the TSJA’s ruling that the change in use was against the law, meaning the planning permit for the hotel must be weighed against the PORN as it stands (not as the Junta would like it to stand).
The issue is that the hotel was built on a planning permit granted back in the early 80’s, before the land was designated natural park, although construction did not start until the turn of the century. The argument was that the planners of the park should have taken the hotels permits into account when changing the use of the land. However, the courts have now ruled that this argument is not valid.
The ruling also says that the 1994 plan is the correct one which must be used when deciding what to do with the hotel. The court pointed out that the 1994 plan firmly establishes the land the hotel is built on to be “non-urbanisable protected land” in which nothing can be constructed, and buildings constructed but without special authorisation cannot be legalised.
And in a damaging move, the court also upheld Greenpeace’s argument that the Junta’s only motive in their attempt to change the PORN was to “legalise the illegal”.
Does this mean that the 20 story, 441 room hotel will now be knocked down? Time will tell. I’m betting it isn’t – the Junta will say they have more court cases to finish first.