16 March 2017

Amendment to the Building Act simplifies construction permits

An amendment to the Building Act has passed its second reading in the Chamber of Deputies. The main change that it brings is the new concept of a joint zoning and building procedure, including the possibility to issue a joint ruling for such a procedure. The amendment envisages other changes as well. If adopted, the amended act will make obtaining a building permit easier and faster.

Věra Kočicová
Jaroslav David

The new act contains a number of novelties in construction law. Undoubtedly, the most significant one is the possibility of combining a town and country planning (zoning) procedure and a building procedure into a single, joint procedure, whose result would be a coordinated permit, placing and at the same time permitting the construction. A binding assessment of the environmental impact of the construction, forming the basis for permit issuance, would also be integrated in the joint permit.

The joint permit concept is not the only expected change. Affected authorities will now have to publish town and country planning (zoning) documentation on the internet. When updating or modifying planning (zoning) documentation, a precondition of its effectiveness will be the publishing of the complete updated or modified document. This should contribute to higher transparency and better orientation in the building procedure. Furthermore, municipal councils will no longer have to obtain a separate town and country (zoning) plan and a regulatory plan. Instead, they could adopt a unified town and country plan with elements of a regulatory plan. This measure of a general nature could then be reviewed or cancelled within one year from its effective date at the latest.

The proposed amendment also contains the principles of the so far unpassed Line Structures Act (regulating for instance roads, railways). Should it not be objectively possible to place a line structure in the corridor intended for it in the town and country plan, for instance on the grounds of geological research carried out, the relevant regional authority could in undeveloped areas decide on diverting from such corridor. As a result, the foundations for a high-speed rail not only from Prague to Brno, but also for instance from Prague to Dresden may be laid within the next 20 years. Apart from fundamental issues, such as the mentioned line structures, the amendment also addresses the day-to-day problems of citizens: for instance, it will no longer be necessary to obtain the consent of one’s neighbour to build a fence higher than 2 meters.

According to the promoters’ vision, the changes should simplify and speed-up the obtention of building permits, reduce the administrative burden and increase applicants’ ability to compete. Investment construction should also be encouraged. The existing process of obtaining all necessary permits for construction can be described as fragmented and overly complex. The adoption of the amendment would thus be a welcome change, with the potential, among others, to encourage the desired development of infrastructure.

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