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Anger as Josef Fritzl allowed to build flats and underground garage

At first glance, the sophisticated architectural plans for a dozen or so modern flats, an underground garage and an office block with big city-style mirrored windows seemed to hold out the promise of long-awaited metropolitan flair for the Austrian country town of Amstetten.

However, residents in the town, 60 miles west of Vienna, have been horrified to discover that the ambitious scheme recently ratified by the town council has been conceived by Austria's so-called "incest monster" Josef Fritzl.

Fritzl (75) is serving a life sentence in Stein prison. During a spectacular trial last year, he was convicted of holding his daughter prisoner in a cellar beneath his Amstetten home for 24 years, raping her an estimated 3,000 times and fathering seven children through the incestuous relationship.

It emerged this week that, prior to his conviction, Fritzl spent some 160,000 euro on buying up land located only 600 yards from his cellar. He applied for planning permission for his office and flats scheme in 2006 -- two years before he was caught.

Officials studying the development apparently had no objections to the scheme and rubber-stamped it after agreeing it appeared to fulfil the statutory requirement of fitting "harmoniously" into the area.

Fritzl's insolvency lawyer, Walter Anzböck insists he has been obliged to follow through with the project in order to satisfy the financial demands of Fritzl's 21 creditors who want to recoup the estimated ?3m they are rumoured to have invested.

"Fritzl won't earn a cent out of the development and he has nothing to do with the current negotiations," he said this week.

Fritzl, was a property dealer before his arrest and owned several houses in Lower Austria.

However Amstetten's residents are furious.

"Fritzl had done so much damage to our town's reputation," said Otto Popp, a pensioner who lives close to Fritzl's proposed development site.

"He cannot be permitted to erect a monument to himself in Amstetten. He is utterly despised here."

His son, Jürgen, has joined in the bid to stop the scheme. The council has yet to respond to their appeal.

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