The territorial planning bible, the CoBat, has been reviewed from top to bottom in Brussels and comes into effect in 2018. What will it going to change?
Wallonia has been digesting a new regional development code (CoDT) since 1 June. Brussels will be doing the same shortly with the reform of its regional development code (CoBAT). These documents aim to mark out what can be built, to what gauge and where. Changed twenty or so times within a little over 10 years, this time the CoBAT has been given a comprehensive facelift, whose byword is “sim-pli-fi-cation”.
In Brussels, the CoBAT reform touches on all aspects of the territorial development of the capital: planning, urban planning permit procedures, environmental permits, impact assessment, heritage, planning infringements, etc. . Its reform should lead to administrative simplification and faster licensing. This is clearly a step forward for developers since, for projects subject to an impact assessment, they will gain six months in the issuing of a license that usually takes two years, with a lightening of the statement of works procedure.
New compulsory issuing deadline
With the reform of the CoBAT, the municipalities will face a new compulsory deadline for issuing planning permits. Specifically, administrations from the 19 communes will have 30 days to determine whether an application is complete (45, if this application is subject to impact assessment). Once this has been approved, they will have 45 days to deliver their permit. A dreamed of execution speed. On the other hand, if this deadline is exceeded, applications not processed in time will be considered de facto as refused. This is “tacit refusal”.
The reforms of the CoBAT (all fresh) and of the CoDT are impatiently awaited by property developers. Particularly because the difficulty in obtaining permits is penalising new-builds. As it takes some projects several years to make it onto the market, they are no longer adapted to the demand. One point remains, which isn’t to everybody’s liking: although this great reform of the CoBat was passed by the Brussels Parliament last October, the one dedicated to permit applications won’t take effect for a year, i.e. in January 2019. The reason? To give communes the time to reorganise themselves internally, particularly to have time to train their staff. With the same resources as today.