It was meant to be a dream retirement. David Bagott bought a waterside house in the stunning Empuriabrava harbour area in the Spanish town of Cadaques in Catalonia ten years ago with the aim of eventually moving there for good.
But six months ago David was sent a letter from the Spanish authorities warning him that it intended to reclaim about 19ft of land from the water's edge at his property for public access.
It means that David will lose the private mooring for his boat, his balcony, terrace and about three metres of his living room. Not only does it make the property unsaleable in the short term, but the changes will reduce its value. Not surprisingly, David doesn't want to live there any more.
This devastating plan affects about 5,000 properties on the waterside of the beautiful town that was home to Salvador Dali for much of his life. The sum set aside by the authorities for compensation is a miserly £7million - equivalent to £1,400 for each affected property.
These 'land grabs' by Spanish authorities are not uncommon and tens of thousands of British homeowners in Spain have already fallen foul of them.
Empuriabrava is different because its properties were built legally. The Spanish government passed the Ley de Costas - 'the law of the coast' - in 1988. This law states that six metres (19ft) of land joining the coast or beach and the sea belongs to the State and is available for public access.
But the problem for the residents of Empuriabrava is that the law states that any salt water is 'coastal'. It means the canals and private harbour of Empuriabrava also fall under the law and can be reclaimed by the government.
'This is clearly not what the law of the coast was meant to achieve,' says David, a former furniture designer who now works as a property developer.
'The six metre line cuts through villas and apartment buildings like mine that are on the water's edge. Empuriabrava was built 50 years ago with all the correct legal permits and provisions observed. The moorings for boats were also bought legally with the correct taxes paid. We all purchased in good faith. To have this happen is devastating.'
David bought his two-bedroom Spanish home for the equivalent of £200,000 from the developers who built the private harbour and much of the property in Empuriabrava. He had planned to sell his house in Dartmouth, Devon,
this year and move to Spain permanently. Now he says he will have to stay in the UK and work longer while the uncertainty surrounds the future of Empuriabrava.
An action group, Associacio de Propiertaris D'Empuriabrava (APE) has been set up by Empuriabrava's residents. It says that not only will the government's plan destroy house prices and make property impossible to sell, but it will also damage businesses and cause a loss of jobs in the area.
Peter Machin, 75, who is married to Veronica, worked in the fashion business in manufacture and later importing and has lived in Empuriabrava for six years.
He says: 'To have a waterside villa with a private mooring and access to the sea is the dream of most boating enthusiasts. We came from the UK and other European countries and paid a premium for the privilege. To have this happen now is devastating.'
Former London taxi company owner Pat Jennings, 70, who is separated and lives in Switzerland, has a holiday home in Empuriabrava.
He says: 'We have not acted illegally. We purchased in good faith and paid taxes. The consequence of this law is that property prices are being destroyed as people will not buy and owners cannot sell.'
APE has employed lawyers to fight the case and it is preparing to go to the EC courts. But David and others will have to fund the legal case, the cost of which could run into hundreds of thousands of euros.
David and other residents do not know how long the case will take to be heard and in the meantime they are unable to sell. 'I'm in limbo until this is sorted out,' says David. 'It's a nightmare. I won't be able to sell but I'm not sure I will want the property after all the development has destroyed it. I just hope the legal system will see sense and stop this.'