Albufeira demolitions were “ordered by newbie judge”, says legal source

As the 120-day deadline given by a Loulé judge for the demolition of 28 homes in Albufeira draws closer, a legal source has revealed that the decision was made by a “newbie judge”.

By that he meant a judge who was ‘new to the job’ and under supervision.

“Her decision was monstrous, in effect,” said the source. “It sought to strip dozens of people of homes they thought they had purchased entirely legally – and it landed the council with a bill for damages that it had no way of meeting.”

It also failed to comply with legal requirements of demolitions, he said – citing the fact that instead of advertising the decision in two national papers, the decision was put twice in the same paper – Público – “a journal that is not read by many people in the Algarve”.

The “ridiculous” state of affairs – which only came to light during the summer (see Demolition shock rocks Albufeira apartments) is now being challenged through the courts by Albufeira council.

The source who spoke with us last week claims to be “fairly certain everything will work out in the end”.

But for the time being the residents of Bloc 5 Roja Pé, Olhos de Água, and neighbours in the top floor of Bloc 4 have no way of either selling their homes, or even renting them out legally.

The ‘newbie’ judge’s decision withdrew the habitation licences on the properties, and now everyone is waiting to see what comes of the council’s appeals.

Meantime, the source we spoke to said the council is moving ahead with plans to revise the borough’s PDM (land plan).

It will take at least two years, said the source, but one way or the other, the “legalisation” of the Olhos de Água apartments should be dealt with within this time frame.

Said one of the 66 residents involved: “This whole situation has been a nightmare. We just want it to end.”

As the Resident explained when this story first broke, the judge’s decision refers to apartments authorised by former mayor of three terms in Albufeira, Desidério Silva.

Silva has been criticised for leaving his post with the borough in “organisational chaos”, not to mention debt. He is now the head of the Algarve’s tourism board.

Silva has not once deigned to answer any of the local press’ questions on this issue – but our source claims the council has gone back over the original documentation, and architects stand by their decision to give the building of the properties the green light.

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Photo by: Sara Alves