The procedure leading to obtaining a building permit according to the current legislation is unreasonably lengthy and complex. The new construction law aims to eliminate this situation. In this article, we will therefore outline the changes that the new Building Act will bring, as well as the moment from which it will move according to the new Building Act.
Construction permit in a single procedure
Nowadays, the first step to a building permit is the zoning procedure, which is followed by the building procedure. The new Building Act introduces a unified joint procedure for planning permission. One procedure will thus replace not only the two-round process, but also a number of other hybrid procedures existing alongside it – for example, simplified zoning proceedings, notification or zoning consent. This way, the builder does not have to worry about choosing the right procedure. In the current Building Act, there is also a variant of joint zoning and construction management, but this is not used much in practice.
The only alternative to the planning permission procedure in the new Building Act is the accelerated procedure, which replaces the existing zoning approval and construction notification and enables the issuance of a permit as the first step in the procedure. If these are simpler cases and if the conditions laid down by law are fulfilled (the obligation of the authorities to provide preliminary information on the conditions related to the issuance of a decision on planning permission is now also extended to the authorities concerned), especially if the municipality has issued a spatial plan, the building in question is in accordance with the law and the builder has documented the consent of all participants, the builder will obtain a permit immediately after submitting the application.
The new Building Act will bring the possibility for the builder to submit the application electronically. The application forms will be available on the builder's portal, where it will also be possible to monitor the status of the proceedings. The builder's portal is intended to facilitate communication between the builder, the building authority and the relevant authorities. Whether it will be possible to implement and put into practice all the necessary IT systems remains a question, however, given the current development and especially the intervention of the Office for the Protection of Economic Competition in the public contract in question.
According to the current legislation, the authority concerned will issue a binding opinion without undue delay, within 30 days at the latest, while the specified period can be extended by up to 30 days if it is necessary to order an on-site inspection or if it is a particularly complex case. However, this period does not run during the removal of defects submitted by the builder. If the deadline for the issuance of a binding opinion is not met, it is considered to be affirmative and without conditions. The same deadlines are set by the new Construction Act.
As for the deadlines for issuing decisions, although the current Building Act anticipates decisions in zoning and, subsequently, building proceedings within 60 days, or 90 days in particularly complex cases, the mentioned deadlines were not observed in practice. According to the new Building Act, the building authority will make a decision for simple buildings within 30 days and in other cases within 60 days, while it is possible to extend these periods by up to 30 or 60 days (for example, in particularly complex cases or in proceedings with a large number of participants). However, the new Building Act does not introduce any special tools to enforce the set deadlines that would protect against inactivity, so the question remains whether the building authorities will follow them. The builder thus remains the standard protection against inactivity, which he can claim through a request for the application of measures against inactivity according to the administrative code, or a subsequent lawsuit for protection against inactivity according to the administrative court order. The initially considered fiction of a positive decision was dropped during the discussion of the new construction law. In the event of inaction by the concerned authorities in issuing binding opinions, the fiction of consent will continue to apply in most cases.
Coordinated statements and binding opinions
In cases where several statements or binding opinions would be needed, which should be issued by the same authority as the concerned authority, it will issue one coordinated statement or binding opinion instead. In a coordinated statement or a binding opinion, the public administration body will assess the admissibility of the project from the point of view of all the public interests it defends and, where appropriate, state the conditions for their protection.
Unified environmental opinion
Instead of separate statements, binding opinions or decisions related to the environment, which have so far been issued under nine different laws (Air Protection Act, Nature and Landscape Protection Act, Water and Forestry Act, etc.), a unified environmental opinion is to be issued. However, this will not be the case in all cases. For example, if the project is located in a location of European significance, a bird area or a specially protected area, or if it is a permit for the management of surface water according to the Water Act, a separate decision or opinion will continue to be issued. At the same time, it should be mentioned that the unified environmental opinion will be issued outside of the planning permission procedure.
Institute of Joint Action
A joint meeting of the building authority with the relevant authorities is intended to discuss statements and binding opinions or to eliminate contradictions. The builder and other participants in the proceedings can also participate in the joint meeting, if such a procedure is expedient. However, a necessary prerequisite, without which this tool could hardly lead to more efficient management, is the friendly approach of the authorities themselves. If they stick to their conclusions, a higher authority will inevitably have to deal with any contradictions, and the proceedings would thus only be prolonged by unsuccessful joint negotiations.
Prohibition of official ping-pong
The appellate administrative body will directly change newly illegal or incorrect first-instance decisions. In this way, there will no longer be cancellation of the decision and the constant return of the case for a new hearing by the first-instance authority. After removing the defects and possibly supplementing the evidence, the appellate administrative body will decide on the merits itself.
The amendment postponed the effectivity of the new Building Act to 1 January 1. At the same time, the new Building Act provides for a transitional period from 2024 January 1 to 1 June 2024, during which the existing legislation will be followed, with the exception of reserved buildings. According to the new Building Act, in the case of reserved buildings, the procedure will start as early as January 30, 6, while for other buildings only from July 2024, 1.
Although the current form of the new construction law is quite far from its original slogan "one authority - one procedure - one stamp", we still hope that the above changes will lead to a simpler and faster permitting process.
Mgr. Vladimír Nováček, Attorney
Mgr. Barbora Valentová, paralegal