Hope for Ria Formosa islanders as Armona Brits dodge demolition deadline

Today, April 6, was meant to have been the day time ran out for the ‘dream home’ of Britons Paul Roseby and James Tod (click here).

The theatrical duo are however fighting their corner tooth and nail – and the deadline has passed with the house still standing.

Tomorrow is the date set by APA (Portugal’s environmental agency) to compulsorily seize the house, with a view to carrying out enforced demolition.

This deadline too looks likely to pass, thanks to Roseby and Tod’s latest legal challenges.

But in the meantime, something (else) quite wonderful seems to be happening for neighbouring islanders of Farol and Hangares.

Though ‘living under the shadow’ of demolitions purportedly due “any day now”, they were called to a meeting earlier this week to be told the government’s POC (coastal programme), taking in areas from Vilamoura to Vila Real de Santo António is being drawn up – and, according to a report in Correio da Manhã, it “opens a window of hope”.

The meeting presided over by Olhão mayor António Pina, in the company of Socialist MP Luís Graça, is understood to have informed islanders that “it will be possible to ensure the legality of human presence on the islands” – meaning the continued existence of householders.

Costa and Pina guaranteed that islanders’ rights and interests “would be taken into account”, says CM.

And the process of the POC will “include collaboration” with islanders who only last month were beginning to lose hope (click here).

APA now has 15 months to draw up the POC, says the paper – stressing the next bit of good news: Aside from allowing for the legalisation of homes on the barrier islands, in historic villages like Farol and Hangares, “the document opens the possibility that owners of properties that have already been ‘seized’ by Sociedade Polis – the organisation responsible for barrier island demolitions – could try and suspend this through the courts until the new document has been concluded”.

It’s a long shot – there will doubtless be storms ahead – but islanders are buoyant. “Slowly, we may get a long way”, is the gist of Facebook posts as collective breaths are held in deafening silence.

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