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Planning and environmental issues


Which government authorities regulate planning and zoning for real estate development and use in your jurisdiction and what is the extent of their powers?

The main planning authorities are:

  • the Cadastral Authority;
  • the Planning Authority; and
  • the Geographic Institute Agustín Codazzi.

What are the eligibility, procedural and documentary requirements to obtain planning permission?

Under Colombian law all municipalities are required to make territorial ordering plans, which should be respected for at least 12 years. Once the plan has been issued it is extremely difficult to change the rules that apply to residential properties.

Can planning decisions be appealed? If so, what is the appeal procedure?

Planning decisions cannot be appealed; they are designed to be adopted for 12-year terms.

What are the consequences of failure to comply with planning decisions or regulations?

The consequences are fines and demolition.  

What regime governs the protection and development of historic and cultural buildings?

Under Colombian law, historical and cultural buildings are subject to conservation rules. The national or a municipal government can declare a building to be an historical landmark. Depending on the characteristics of the structure, there are different levels of protection available. In the cases of national monuments, the law protects the structure as well as its surroundings; therefore neighbouring buildings and plots can be affected by such protection.  

Government expropriation

What regime applies to government expropriation of real estate?

The right of property is a fundamental right in Colombia. However, the law empowers certain government agencies to expropriate a citizen’s goods in the public interest. This will happen only if an agency is unable to acquire the property any other way.

What is the required notice period for expropriation and how is compensation calculated?

Once the acquisition offer is delivered to the owner of the property, he or she has 30 business days in which to answer before the expropriation process can be initiated.

The price of compensation is calculated by the Geographic Institute Agustín Codazzi, the Cadastral Authority or experts. In the event of no agreement being reached, the price of compensation will be the cadastral value. 

Environmental issues

What environmental certifications are required for the development of real estate and how are they obtained?

These certifications vary depending on the size and purpose of the project. Under normal circumstances, the constructor must acquire the following, as well as the normal construction licence:

  • an environmental impact authorisation;
  • authorisation to forestall use; and
  • a land-use licence.

Other projects may also require the following certifications:

  • a concession title for the use of domestic water;  
  • a wastewater disposal permit; and
  • a solid waste permit.

The process for obtaining such certifications varies depending on the local authorities. 

What environmental disclosure obligations apply to real estate sales?

There is no legal obligation to disclosure information regarding environmental obligations. However, the need for disclosure may be established by contractual deed.  

What rules and procedures govern environmental clean-up of property? Which parties are responsible for clean-up and what is the extent of their liability?

There are no specific rules for environmental clean-up of property. However, the licence or certificate titleholder must fulfil the obligations associated with the property. 

Are there any regulations or incentive schemes in place to promote energy efficiency and emissions reductions in buildings?

The incentive scheme for energy efficiency projects includes:

  • a 50% deduction on income tax over a five-year term;
  • a faster tax depreciation on the goods associated with the project;
  • exemption from paying value added tax; and
  • a reduced duty rate.

There are no incentives for the reduction of emissions. 

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