As of 1 January 2018 the Amendment of the Building Act, i.e. the Act No. 225/2017 Coll., amending the act No. 183/2006 Coll., on town and country planning and building code (Building Act), became effective in the Czech Republic.
The main purpose of the amendment is to simplify and accelerate the planning permit procedure in the Czech Republic. The changes relate to both, the area of zoning and building permit proceedings as well as to the area of municipality planning. Nevertheless, it is already obvious that the newly enacted law will not live up to the expectations.
I. Changes relating to Zoning and Building Permit Proceedings
A. JOINT PROCEEDING
The most significant change in this area is the introduction of so-called joint proceeding combining both zoning permit and building permit proceedings. The joint proceeding is aimed to issue only one joint permit, by which the construction will be located and at the same time permitted. This means that only one appeal or one administrative action can be initiated against the joint permit (if necessary).
Joint proceeding may be also initiated in case of larger and more complex constructions, i.e. for connected structures (e.g. commercial/industrial area), which fall under the competence of more than one building authority. Such proceeding shall be governed by the building authority that is responsible for the main construction permitting. Other building authorities (responsible for permitting additional structures) shall be in a position only to issue binding assessments.
In straightforward cases the building authority is obliged to make a decision without undue delay (maximum period being 60 days for average constructions and 90 days for complex permits) from the application. The joint permit is valid for 2 years, with the possibility to be extended to 5 years by the building authority in justified cases.
Joint procedure is not mandatory. It will still be possible for the developers to apply for the existing zoning permit as well as the building permit (held separately according to existing rules).
B. INTEGRATION OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT (EIA)
Another important change in the field of the permits procedures is the implementation of an option to integrate the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process (according to the Act No. 100/2001 Coll., on environmental impact assessment) either into the individual zoning permit proceeding or into the above described joint proceeding.
The integrated proceedings will be governed by the building authority, which will communicate with both, the investor and EIA authority (i.e. Regional office or Ministry of the Environment). The integration means that the EIA binding assessment will be issued by the EIA authority directly within the zoning permit proceeding or the joint proceeding (i.e. not necessarily in a separate proceeding).
Under the new legislation the developer may select one of the following options:
- the zoning permit proceedings with EIA;
- the joint proceeding with EIA;
- the current EIA process (the EIA approval obtained prior to application for the zoning permit or the joint permit application).
C. LIMITATION OF RIGHTS OF ENVIRONMENTAL ASSOCIATIONS
Environmental associations shall be newly entitled to take part in proceedings pursuant to Building Act only if the respective construction is subject to the mandatory environmental impact assessment – such as airports, oil refineries, motorways or disposal sites of dangerous waste.
Furthermore, in order to by allowed to participate in the permitting process, the environmental association must exist for a minimum of 3 years period (this is to limit prolongation of the proceeding by the tailored-made associations).