Development Land and Planning Permission

Development Land and Planning Permission

Many developers are seeking to purchase development land at various locations in Andalucia for new building projects. Development land in the private sector can have approved planning consent for various types of use, the most common being Housing, Retail, Commercial, Leisure, Industrial or Mixed Use for a combination of the above.

Every local council (Municipality) produces a ten-year plan for urban, green belt and other zones. The local plan is known as the Plan General de Ordinación Urbana PGOU. Each PGOU designates zones that are Suelo Urbanizable (suitable for building development) and further designates the sub-division of such zones into different categories of usage. The plan must be submitted to and approved by the Regional government, the Junta de Andalucía. It was the failure to approve the 1996 Marbella PGOU that led to so many problems.

The current and future PGOU plans are available for inspection in the department of Urbanismo in every Town Hall and sometimes on their website.

The PGOU should also conform to higher government legislation such as the Junta de Andalucia’s Plan de Ordenación Teritorial (POT) (There is one for the East and West Costa del Sol), Ley de Ordenación Urbanistica de Andalucía (LOUA)(Ley 7/2002 17 Dec 2002) and, for example, the National Government’s Ley del Suelo (Real Decree 2159/1978) and the Ley de las Costas.

The next stage of the planning process is for an individual plot (‘parcela’) to be given a Plan Parcial. This is more detailed than the PGOU with concerning individual plots. The Plan Parcial identifies which zones within the specific plot are designated as Zona Verde (Green Belt) and as Suelo Urbanizable (Building Development Land).

The Plan Parcial also identifies types of building permitted within each zone of Suelo Urbanizable on each specific site, together with the maximum permitted extent of the following: building volume; building footprint floor area at ground floor level; number of building storeys; building and storey heights and number of homes (in the case of Housing development land). Obviously land with a defined Plan Parcial has greater value than land without.

There are further principle stages of the planning process. The developer must appoint an architect or engineer to produce a Proyecto Basico (outline project plans, elevations and sections of each building and a site distribution plan indicating all access roads; normally drawn to 1:100 scale), and a Proyecto de Ejecución (detailed working drawings of whole project) These Proyectos must be Visado (Stamped) by the provincial Colegio, which is the professional institution to which the professional (architect or engineer?) is a member.

The final stage is the granting of a Licencia de Obras (Building Licence).

Although outside the scope of large developments, it should be noted that ALL building works or reforms structural or cosmetic require a Licencia de Obras (Building Licence) from the Town Hall. If the work is only cosmetic, it will be considered as an Obra Menor and only the minimum of supporting information is needed with the application form. A cost estimate is required on which to base the 4% fee.

On satisfactory completion and inspection of the works a dwelling will require Certificado de Primero Ocupación and a commercial unit will require a Licencia de Abertura (Opening Licence).

Normally, developers seek to purchase development land, for which a Plan Parcial has already been formally established by the local Town Hall in line with the PGOU. Purchasing land without this could put a developer at risk of not obtaining correct planning consent.