On 1 January 2018 an amendment to the Czech Construction Act, or Building Act entered into force in the Czech Republic. While it aimed to simplify and shorten the approval process, the experts see the results somewhat controversial. In our article we show the pros and cons.
The amendment to the Czech Construction Act came into force on 1 January 2018. It aimed to simplify and speed up building permit procedures. Efforts have been made to make life easier for the building owners. For now, it can only be estimated to what extent the legislators have succeeded in putting their good intentions into practice.
Joint procedures according to the amendment to the Czech Construction Act
One of the novelties of the amendment to the Czech Construction Act aimed at streamlining the building permit procedure is the opportunity to bring the planning permit procedure, building permit procedure and environmental impact assessment (EIA) together into a single joint procedure. Appeals can be lodged only once in the joint procedure, the process of construction authorization, thus being significantly accelerated. The output of the joint procedure is a joint permit concurrently laying down the conditions for the location and execution of a building.
Joint procedures may not be applied for in the case of certain specific buildings (e.g. aviation buildings).
However, a joint procedure also has certain drawbacks. With more complex developments, the entire preparatory phase can ultimately take more time and be more cost intensive, making the application of separate procedures more advantageous for building owners taking into account the feasibility and particular aspects of construction.
Protection of the public interest
The amendment to the Czech Construction Act has also responded to the complexity of the accompanying laws according to which consents to the proposed work must be applied for in order to protect the public interest, including fire protection, nature protection and landscape conservation, protection of the environment, water, infrastructure, etc. However, the relevant authority may lay down numerous conditions in an opinion binding upon the applicant. The amendment to the Czech Construction Act seeks to prevent the relevant authorities from going beyond their powers and laying down conditions they are not entitled to require.
The originally prepared government bill aimed to improve the quality of such binding opinions as reflected in the explanatory memorandum to the bill: “The bill is to eliminate situations where the relevant authorities dictate their requirements without giving reasons for them and acting within their powers established by law.” Contrary to this intention, however, an amendment has been approved in the course of the legislative process that limits the possibilities to review and monitor the legality of binding opinions issued by the relevant authorities.
Contrary to expectations, the amendment to the Czech Construction Act does not limit deadlines by which the relevant authorities should issue their opinions. Thus, the risk of institutional delays remains.
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