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Building & Renovation

New Restrictions on Planning Appeals

Tuesday 03 September 2013

Planning appeal procedures have been tightened up in order to speed up the construction of new housing.

The government has decided to wage war against what they consider to be the number of ‘abusive appeals’ against new housing developments, which is hampering their target of a major programme of housing construction.

According to the government up to 30,000 new homes are currently blocked in the planning appeal system.

The measures are primarily designed to combat the racketeering that takes place in which appellants attempt to secure a payment from developers if they withdraw their appeal.

Around 25% of trapped developments are located in the city of Marseille alone, a town which in recent years has become almost ungovernable, and with a strong mafia influence.

Although the abusive appeals may well be limited to some major urban areas, the new controls apply right across the country to all new proposed housing developments.

In essence they comprise four new measures.

i. Direct Interest – In future a person will only be entitled to appeal against a planning consent if they are directly affected by the development. At the present time, if you can claim to have a prospective interest (due to interest in buying or renting) you can appeal against a planning consent wherever you may live. This is no longer possible. Unless you are directly affected by the development at the time the notice is placed on the notice board at the mairie, you will have no entitlement to appeal.

ii. Fines - the fines that can be levied against abusive appeals will be significantly increased, related to the economic loss which may be suffered by the planning applicant. Although this power already exists, it has been reinforced by the new regulations.

iii. Modify Development - Judges will in future be entitled to regularise a planning application which may not comply with the law, without having to require the applicant to recommence the planning procedure.

iv. Payments - All transactions between a developer and an opponent of a development must in future be registered with the income tax authority. This new measure is to try and reduce the extent to which appeals are made against planning applications on a systematic basis with the sole objective of receiving a pay-off from the developer for withdrawing the appeal.

Arthur Cutler of planning consultancy French Plans states: "These new restrictions on planning appeals form part of a larger review of the whole planning process which is under way, and further significant changes are expected to be released between now and Spring 2014. The overall aim of the review is to accelerate construction projects by the creation of new laws where necessary, and a national 'portal' through which all consultation and information will be delivered, resulting in a unified approach to land planning. "

You can read all about the planning application process in our comprehensive and free Guide to Land Planning in France.

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