VRSA to launch inquiry into €100m demolition headache

Vila Real de Santo António council is to launch an inquiry to determine who should be held accountable for the approval of various urbanizations that violate the town’s municipal plan (PDM) and are now facing demolition in a process that could cost the current administration around €100 million in compensations.

Local mayor Luís Gomes says it is “unacceptable” that the council is being ordered by courts to pay “million-euro compensations” to homeowners and builders due to planning decisions that date back to before 2005 when the council was in the hands of the Socialists (PS) under former mayor António Murta.

As he points out, these compensations could spell financial ruin for the borough.

Thus Gomes wants to know who should be held accountable in order to determine “what action can be taken to safeguard the interests of the municipality and the homeowners”.

Murta has defended himself in an interview with Jornal do Algarve, claiming the whole story is a pack of “lies and calumnies” to counter his own party’s revelations on the state of the council’s debts.

He has since told Sulinformação that Luís Gomes himself voted in favour of the approval of the urbanisations when he was part of the opposition between 2001 and 2005.

The former mayor added that he does not believe the demolition orders will move forward and says that “talking about this will only hurt the borough’s economy”.

As the local PSD party said at the time the news was made public, the properties deemed illegal are in three parishes – Vila Real de Santo António, Monte Gordo and Vila Nova de Cacela.

Most notable are the Varandas do Guadiana riverside urbanization in VRSA and the Monte Rei tourist development.

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Photo: VRSA mayor Luís Gomes