The initiative to introduce the notification procedure for construction commencement is being now discussed in the Russian Ministry of Economic Development. The draft federal laws on introduction of the relevant amendments to the Russian City Planning Code (hereinafter – the “Bills”) has been posted on the ministry website.

It is well the most crucial novelty proposed by the Bills, that the general rule currently established in the para 2 Art. 51 of the City Planning Code will be abandoned, pursuant to which any capital construction (except for certain numerus clausus cases) requires prior obtaining of the construction permit. Instead, the Bills propose a new approach: the construction permit will be required only for construction of extremely hazardous, technically complex, unique objects as well as in certain other exceptional cases enumerated by the City Planning Code; at the same time, the notification procedure of construction commencement is introduced for the ordinary construction projects representing the vast majority in construction activities. The set of documents which should be presented by the developer in course of notification procedure pursuant to the Bills does not much differ from the set of documents currently used for obtaining construction permits. Nevertheless, introduction of the notification procedure in lieu of permit procedure should be definitely regarded as a step to the benefit of developers.

Apparently, this novelty is within the trend of recent efforts which the Russian Government takes for improvement of Russia’s positioning in the World Bank global ranking based on criteria of simplicity of administrative procedures for doing business (“Doing Business”). The high position in this ranking is ensured by the minimum number of administrative procedures and also by the short time period for performance of such procedures. Definitely, substitution of the permit by the notification does not mean the cancellation of the administrative procedure. However, it improves the developer’s position due to increase in legal certainty and time saving, since the developer will be able to commence the construction automatically upon expiration of 30 days as of notification forwarding.

The Bills provide 1 January 2015 as the date for entry of new provisions into force. However, these provisions on notification procedure will not apply to Moscow and Saint Petersburg, i.e. to the territories where the development activities are the most intense.