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French Planning Application Procedures Simplified

French planning application procedures have recently been simplified, although policy guidelines on granting planning consent remain intact.

No less than 18 planning or works declaration procedures, have been regrouped into three types of planning application, and a single works declaration procedure.

The new applications are:

  • planning permission: permis de construire
  • demolition permit: permis de démolir
  • development permit: permis d’aménager
  • works declaration: déclaration préalable

The development permit is only required for applications of a commercial nature, and a demolition permit is only necessary in conservation areas. Even here, if you are proposing demolition work as part of a project which otherwise requires planning consent, there is no need for a separate demolition permit.

In each case, the application itself has been simplified and the documents to accompany the application made explicit.

The other major change has been the introduction of specific timescales within which the planning authority must determine the application, failing which the application is deemed to have been granted tacitly.

In the case of most applications, the decision-making period is three months, although it is two months for a new individual house, and one month for a works declaration.

Nevertheless, the new regulations fail to provide an exhaustive list of what type of application is required for every type of development, so whilst the rules are clearer, they still lack precision.

Broadly speaking, however, under the new procedures any development less than 20m² is subject only to a works declaration procedure, whilst anything larger requires a planning application.

Internal works do not require either a works declaration or a planning application, although any changes to the external façade of the property do require consent in one form or the other, depending on the nature of the works. The regulations have also been made more explicit in relation to attic conversions, swimming pools and change of use.

One of the major objectives of the reform is to make it easier to obtain planning permission, although no changes in planning policy have been introduced. They are mainly administrative changes, one effect of which will be to reduce the ability of third parties to challenge a planning consent.

You can read more about the works that need planning consent or a works declaration, as well as how to submit a planning application, in our guide to French Planning System.

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