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Building & Renovation

Planning Permission in France is Time Limited

Friday 15 October 2010

Planning consent once given can expire if you do not act on it, as an expat from the UK recently found out to his cost.

Peter Watson had purchased a building plot in Brittany, on which he later proposed to construct a house for his retirement in France.

However, he recently found out that the planning permission that he had obtained on a piece of land had been rescinded.

Peter had obtained the permission in 2006 but it seems there had since been a change in the planning regulations for the area, and the land in question was no longer zoned for development.

I had simply not realised that things might change after I had obtained the planning consent, as I assumed that once granted it was for perpetuity,’ he told us.

The problem for Peter is that, although he had obtained the planning consent, he had not commenced works within the statutory two year maximum period allowed for the start of construction works.

Indeed, not only must you start building within two years, but you must also proceed in a reasonably regular manner, failing which the planning authority would also be entitled to withdraw the consent.

So even if works are started on site within the two-year period, but then cease for a period of at least a year, planning permission is deemed to have been rescinded.

Any recommencement of works must have been ‘significant’ for it to be considered valid.

As a general rule, the planning authorities take a relaxed attitude to slow progress, but this may not always be the case with neighbours if they oppose the development, and who may decide to request that the planning permission be withdrawn, a demand that the planning authority would then need to act on.

It is possible to extend the two year period of grace to three years by application to the planning authority, but this must be made two months before the expiry of the existing consent.

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