The Highest Court to Reconsider Assessment of Expropriated Hoya Fría Lands in Tenerife

The Disputes Division of the Supreme Court (TS) has agreed to review an appeal filed by the Rodríguez López family, previous proprietors of the Hoya Fría estates in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and La Laguna. They are seeking a reassessment of the value for which their land was expropriated for military purposes.

In a document accessed by EFE, eleven family members express their disagreement with the two agreements reached by the Provincial Expropriation Board (JPE) earlier in 2021 concerning a 54,000 square meter plot and another measuring 91,700 square meters.

Previously, the Canary Islands High Court of Justice (TSJC) upheld the valuation of the land at 1.04 euros per square meter, whereas the family members were asking for 21.5 euros. Consequently, the Board acknowledged a total payment of 3 million euros, significantly lower than the 30 million euros demanded by the appellants.

The family members argue that the compensation should consider that the army paid an annual rent of 152,000 euros after returning the land due to a breach of the original agreement, which prohibited any other use or sale of the property.

The Ministry of Defense was compelled to make these payments as relocating the barracks immediately was unfeasible, resulting in “opportunity income” for the family, given the land’s rural classification according to the TSJC.

The valuation was determined using the income capitalization method, calculated by multiplying the agricultural property’s yield by the market price of farm goods and annual expenses since it is categorized as rural land.

The TSJC specified that only crops like white potatoes could be grown on the land, while the family believed that more profitable crops such as avocados could also be cultivated.

Therefore, the court asserted that the assessment should reflect the land’s suitability for agriculture rather than its previous military use. Yet, it acknowledged the challenges of assigning these plots for forestry or agricultural activities.

Additionally, the family members have requested an additional 16 million euros from Defense for a section of the land that was not expropriated as it is deemed unusable “cliffs”.

According to the TSJC, the expropriated lands are zoned in the General Urban Planning Plan (PGOU) as undeveloped non-sectorized land with potential development and another portion as deferred land. Hence, they are mainly considered rural land for compensation purposes.

The TSJC dismissed the argument that urban development expectations should be factored in, as they lack “regulatory support” without the approval of the General Plan.

Nonetheless, the family members estimate that up to a thousand residential units and nearly a hundred industrial warehouses could be constructed on this land.

Currently, the Supreme Court is reviewing another appeal from the proprietors as they are dissatisfied with the resorting to expropriation, a move that was also dismissed by the High Court of Justice.

The legal team representing the Rodríguez López family expresses their dismay at the loss of a “unique opportunity” for the capital of Tenerife in reclaiming a crucial site for its urban development in the foreseeable future.

They suggest that if the State’s plans proceed as intended, there will be an “outdated” scenario where a military base is situated in the heart of the Tenerife capital, a stark contrast to the trend of these facilities being phased out from urban areas.

Initially, the Urban Development Plan outlined the creation of a large healthcare hub comprising hospitals and residences. However, when the expropriation came into play, both the Island Council and the City Hall refused to entertain any alternative proposals apart from military usage, as claimed by the previous landowners.

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