Czech Republic: Amendment of Building Act
On 1 January 2018, the long-awaited Act No. 225/2017 Coll., amending the Building Act (i.e. Act No. 183/2006 Coll., on town planning and the building code) entered into effect. Along with it, another 43 related acts were amended.
These amendments are intended to simplify and accelerate the building permission procedure, which for many years has been criticized by the real estate and construction industry as being too lengthy.
In order to fulfill its aim of simplification, acceleration and clarification of the proceedings, the amendment introduces a large number of partial changes. The most important ones will be highlighted here.
The most significant conceptual change is the newly introduced “coordinated permit procedure” and the integration of the EIA within this permit procedure. Procedures which in the past were conducted separately (building decision/zoning decision/EIA), can now, upon request by the applicant, be merged into a unified single procedure with a single administrative decision at the end. This is intended to save time and reduce the number of potential appeals.
The next major change to be noted is the exclusion of environmental associations from all approval proceedings except for those proceedings in which an environmental impact assessment and/or proceedings under the Nature and Landscape Protection Act takes place. Excluding associations from proceedings does not in itself speed up the approval processes; however, a fundamental acceleration is to be expected in cases where in the past some associations intentionally blocked the proceedings and slowed them down.
While at first glance the amendment of the Building act seems promising, there are several question marks over it. Firstly, the Czech Ministry of Regional Development has already expressed its intention to prepare a completely new Building Act to replace the current one. Moreover, the current amendment act has been challenged by several Senators at the Constitutional Court. Further changes are therefore expected.