A villa in the fashionable Atlantic coastal village of Cap Ferret has been mysteriously demolished, apparently without the knowledge and consent of the owner.
Cap Ferret* may well be an idyllic ‘bout du monde’ location on the tip of the Bay of Arcachon, but not so remote that planning laws do not apply or that the inhabitants do not take an interest in their neighbours affairs.
In this case, the neighbours concerned were members of a local association for the protection of the environment of the village - l’association Protection et aménagement de Lège-Cap-Ferret.
They became intrigued by huge tarpaulins that had been erected around the boundary of a beachside property that was undergoing building works.
Such was the scale of the protective covering that the property was completely hidden from view.
Enquiries to the local mairie revealed that the owner of the property, no less a person than the president of the regional association of property developers, had applied and obtained planning consent for construction of a new floor level on the single-storey property.
It was with some surprise, therefore, for the association to find by discreet observation that the whole of the property had been demolished by the building contractor.
According to the local mayor, Michel Sammarcelli, no application for a demolition permit had been made or granted. Such permits are only necessary in sensitive, protected areas of the country, as is the case at Cap Ferret.
Asked to explain himself Alain Ferrasse, the owner, stated that ‘"I was absent over the period of these works and decisions were taken without my agreement. The site engineer decided that construction of the new floor level required the demolition and reconstruction of the existing walls, something about which he did not consult me. Once I found out the works were halted."
Although the works may have been stopped that was not before the property had been demolished, and the local council stated that a fresh planning application would be required.
They are also likely to have the last laugh, for reconstruction of the property will now have to comply with new planning regulations, which require that it is constructed further inland, and to a smaller scale.
In commenting on the case the local mayor stated that "I have around one case of this type every year, in most cases with the owners decovering suddenly that the property was infested with termites."
*Not to be confused with the equally fashionable Cap Ferrat resort in Alpes Maritimes.