Singer Julio Iglesias has infuriated locals in Spain's Costa Blanca region by "exploiting land grab laws" to build a holiday complex worth an estimated $703 million (GBP370 million).

The 350 inhabitants of rural valley Benichembla have slammed the Spanish hunk for joining forces with property company COLL DE RATES SA in order to build 1,500 villas and golf courses on land belonging to poor farmers.

The country passed a controversial law in 1994, which enables property developers to reclassify land from rural to urban, to lower the prices property owners are given for their land - and Iglesias has been accused of taking advantage of this law.

Benichembla mayor AURELIO LLINARES, who has angered locals by signing a secret deal with developers, says, "It is the law.

"This will benefit the whole community."

However, local architect ALAN GRAY counters, "Everyone is horrified by what has been concluded in secret.

"This valley will be ruined. We have called on the mayor to quit, but he won't. Mr Iglesias is exploiting land grab laws"

13/03/2005 21:23