6. Making a Planning Application in France

  1. Who Decides?
  2. Getting Planning Advice
  3. Submitting the Planning Application
  4. Procedural Timescales
  5. Public Notice Requirements
  6. Extension of Planning Consent

6.3. Submitting a French Planning Application

A planning application in France is called a demande de permis de construire.

The planning application itself is quite a complicated form to complete. Indeed, around 25% of applications are returned to the applicant as being incomplete!

If the proposed habitable surface area (surface de plancher) of the new building is greater than 150m², or where an extension to an existing property generates a surface area exceeds this threshold, then the use of a qualified architect is obligatory.

You can download the form itself at Demande de permis de construire.

You need to submit a minimum of four copies of the planning application to the local mairie. You should either deliver it by hand and get a receipt, or send it by recorded delivery.

Together with the planning application itself, you will need to submit:

  • Location Plan between 1/5000 and 1/25000;
  • Site Layout Plan (with infrastructure) between 1/50 and 1/5000;
  • Elevations Plan;
  • Written description of the project;
  • Landscape Plan (showing in cross section relation of building local landscape);
  • Photographs of site in proximity and from a distance;
  • Coloured drawing that shows building in relation to surrounding environment;

In addition to completion of the forms and submission of the plans, if you are proposing to install a septic tank you may also be required to undertake soil tests to establish the ground conditions, as well as details of the proposed installation.

Since 1st January 2013, and the introduction of new energy effeciency regulations called RT2012, you may also be required to submit a declaration (attestation) that the proposed works comply with RT2012. You will need to obtain professional assistance in the preparation of this document. Whilst the regulations apply to all new homes, extensions of less than 150m² and 30% of the existing property are granted partial exemption from the new regulations, although the declaration is still required.

You need to discuss with the planning authority precisely what it is they require, as the requirements differ depending on the nature and location of the project. The planning authority are required to present you with a checklist of documents and plans that need to be submitted with the application. Once you have been presented with the list of documents required, you cannot be asked to supply more documentation.

Sadly, whilst this new rule was introduced to stop a situation where planning authorities kept asking for more documents before they would make a decision, it has meant that, particularly for minor development proposals, they tend to ask for more than the project sometimes warrants.

No planning fee is payable, but there are taxes payable should you receive consent.

The possibility for a person who is not owner of the land to submit a planning application is permitted under French law, but only on condition that the owner of the land has given their consent. This provision would be of use, for instance, where you are buying a property or land, with completion that is conditional upon planning consent being granted.

If you are seeking an amendment to an existing planning application yet to be determined then you need to use Demande de modification d'un permis délivré en cours de validité.

The line between an amendment to an existing application or a the need to submit a new application is a thin one. In general, an amendment will only be accepted if it does not increase the position, volume or height of the development although, where there are only minor variations, you should be able to get away with an amended application.

Once you have completed the works, you will also need to submit a Completion Notice.

Next: Procedural Timescales

Back: Getting Planning Advice

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