New law on remodeling commercial buildings
Due to new hungarian legislative amendments, the number of cases in which a special permit is required for work on commercial buildings continues to increase. The new permit proceedings apply to work for which no building permit is required, however, for the new proceedings, an assessment must be obtained from the pertinent authorities. Environmental, infrastructural and urban planning impacts of the commercial building are taken into consideration in this assessment.
Although the regulations of the “Plaza Stop” have changed in 2015, special requirements for construction work on commercial buildings (shops, shopping malls) are still in force. Since 2015, applicable law has mandated, as a part of the procedure for obtaining a building permit, an assessment by the Head of the Government Office of Hajdú-Bihar County for the construction as well as the extension of any commercial building with gross floor space exceeding 400 square meters.
As of 10 August 2018, a new permit, i.e. a “function conversion permit” must be obtained when a building with 400 square meters or more gross floor space is changed into a commercial building or a commercial building is remodeled. An assessment by the Head of the Government Office of Hajdú-Bihar County must likewise be obtained as a part of these new function conversion permit proceedings.
The remodeling of a commercial building as defined in the new law includes not only modifications for which no building permit is necessary and which result in an increase in the size of the commercial building to more than 400 square meters, but also any alteration of a commercial building already larger than this size.
Because modifications to commercial buildings entail the obligation to procure the new permit, the scope of construction work subject to this special permit has become considerably broad. Practically speaking, even changing the location of walls within the commercial premises may require a function conversion permit if the premises are larger than 400 square meters.
When such modifications are made, the assessment by the Head of the Government Office of Hajdú-Bihar County focuses on whether the advantages expected from the establishment of the commercial unit are greater than the disadvantages it causes. These are the same considerations that have been taken into account based on the legal requirements that have been in force since 2015. If the disadvantages outweigh the foreseeable positive effects of the commercial edifice, the result of the assessment may be the refusal. In some cases evaluated between 2015 and 2017, the assessment resulted in rejection of the application because the commercial premises would have had a negative impact on the value of the buildings in question, which were under a historical preservation order, or because the high volume of traffic the commercial establishment would have generated would have decreased air quality or increased noise volume.
The assessment also takes into account the projected impact of the commercial building on the surrounding area as well as the feasibility of the measures planned by the applicant with the aim of eliminating or diminishing the related adverse effects.
In order to reliably determine exactly what construction work requires this new conversion permit, it will be necessary to observe the authority’s actual practice in the future. This is of critical importance since if the building is modified or used without the authority’s permission, the authority can prohibit the commercial activity in the building and impose a fine.