Ten years later: The Priors’ fight continues

FIGHT: Protests have been held in support of Len and Helen Prior (inset) ©AUAN & Lenox Napier

A DECADE ago, Helen and Len Prior had their dream property, which they designed themselves, demolished by Spanish authorities by the order of a judge.

Their story has become known among many expatriates living in Spain.

The couple, who are now in their 70s, saw their €350,000 Vera villa torn down in 2008 due to complex planning laws not being followed.

They were initially granted a licence for the property, which they named ‘Tranquilidad’. By a local council in 2002, and received no indication that there were any legal issues when they bought the plot of land.

Len, speaking to British media in 2012, said: “I can honestly say that that they (the Andalucian government) have wrecked our lives.

“They have taken everything we worked for away from us, 45 years of working hard and now we have nothing.”

The couple had hoped to spend their retirement in the property, but have instead found themselves fight their case in Spanish courts at the expense of their remaining savings.

The couple have never given up hope of having some success and they have finally been rewarded for their endless efforts.

A 2009 report by the EU into planning abuses in Spain was highly critical across the country.

During the economic crisis, several Brit’s experienced the same crisis that Len and Helen suffered following the property boom that occurred in the late 90s and early 2000s.

Over 300,000 homes across Andalucia were ruled illegal, but in 2015 the Spanish senate passed a law barring authorities from demolishing “illegal” houses if the owners bought in good faith.

The Priors’ breakthrough finally came in October when Vera council was ordered by to regional high court to compensate the couple €220,334, and also pay the couple €9,194 in ‘moral damages’.

If the mayor doesn’t pay by the end of February, courts can seize council assets and charge up to €40,000 in interest.

According to British media, the couple are now keen to move on with their lives and intend to use the compensation to buy a new property, however they are still reportedly yet to receive the money.