The Seseña Nuevo housing complex of 13,500 flats caused an uproar when building started because of its lack of water and non-existent drainage system. Located on a bare plain some 30 miles south of Madrid, the problems were corrected and it should now should be home to around 40,000 people but hardly anyone lives there. Self-made millionaire Francisco Hernando’s dream was to provide relatively low-cost housing in a country where many people cannot afford to take out a mortgage in the first place. Unfortunately the housing bubble burst and the dream ground to a halt. No children play on the freshly painted climbing-frames and swings and no-one enjoys the unbroken views across the parks, with their spring flowers, shaded areas and rows of palm trees. Silence reigns on the court for ball games and in the large swimming pool nearby. One reporter finally spotted a man hanging out a “For Sale” sign out on the balcony of his fourth floor flat. He said he bought it as an investment but hasn’t been able to sell it as yet. The director of urban development at Madrid’s International Business School, Dr Gildo Seisdedos, said many people here by property as an investment, not to live in. But because of the worsening economy, including soaring food prices, people aren’t buying. Another resident was spotted kicking a ball around with his little girl and his wife. He said he bought their flat six years ago and moved in as soon as it was ready last September. Of the 290 apartments in his block he said only about 50 have been bought and very few people live there because for most it’s an investment. He said he can’t sell because he’d lose money. Another man who lives in Madrid said he bought 12 flats and is selling them at less than cost price. There many ghost towns in parts of Spain but none as new as this one.

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