1. Introduction to System of Land Planning in France

If you are buying property in France then it is a fair bet you are going to encounter the planning authorities.

Normally the process is relatively clear and painless.

There is a stronger presumption to granting planning consent than is often the case in many countries, particularly within existing settlements.

Those accustomed to detailed planning regulations found in the UK will rarely find the same experience in France, particularly in rural areas.

Clearly, there are exceptions, notably in relation to protected areas and buildings but, if you are buying such a property we suspect this is likely to be something you will welcome.

One notable area where detailed controls do not exist is in relation to building control and inspection. It would be unusual for you to receive a visit from an inspector, as the strict system of building control and inspection with which those from the UK are familiar does not exist in France.

Naturally, you have to build in accordance with the planning consent and building standards, but there is generally a greater freedom of action, and less detailed regulation and supervision.

Of course, the lack of controls cuts both ways, for whilst you may have greater freedom of action to do as you wish, it also means others have the same right.

As a result, there are many who consider that controls on standards are not strong enough, and that the aesthetic appearance of many new developments in France leaves a lot to be desired.

In some parts of France the scale of some of these new, unsympathetic developments has been substantial, often to the detriment of the character of existing small villages.

Planning laws are also strongly weighed in favour of agricultural development and new development can frequently be uncomfortably close to existing habitations.

In these pages we provide some contextual pages on the wider planning system, as we consider those buying property in France need to consider local planning policies.

We also take you through the whole planning application process, from making a planning application to completion of works on site.

We tell you how you can get free planning and architectural advice, and how you should go about appointing an architect.

Once you have received planning permission there are still various notification procedures with which you will need to comply. They are not onerous, but you need to remember them.

Finally, we outline the planning taxes for which you may be liable. Whilst there is no planning application fee, there are later taxes to pay if you should receive consent.

Next: National Planning Framework

The Guides to France are published for general information only.
Please visit our Disclaimer for full details.