A day before it dissolved for the mandate, the Bulgarian Parliament approved the majority of the contents of a draft bill amending the Spatial Development Act (the “amended SDA”). The changes entered into force on 7 February 2017.

Some of the most important changes in the bill, namely those regarding the new categorisation of construction works, were abandoned, leaving room for further amendments by the next parliament.

The most significant changes include:

• Public registers for zoning plans

The amended SDA requires the Minister of Regional Development and Commonwealth, district governors and mayors of municipalities to create and maintain public registers for (i) acts issued for the preparation and approval of zoning plans and their amendments and (ii) construction and use permits.  

• Placement of portable facilities

Land plots may be used for temporary open-air parking, markets, fitness facilities, open-air kindergartens or other portable facilities until the detailed development plan for the concerned land plot is implemented.  The main difference now is that the land plots do not need to be undeveloped in order to organize an open-air parking or to place portable facilities.  

• Short Terms for Notification

Municipalities have ten days to publish notices for elaborated detailed development plans in the State Gazette. Further, if a detailed development plan concerns up to one residential quarter or if it is for a land plot outside of town, the municipality shall notify the interested parties within one month from when the plan is filed.  

By setting these maximum periods, the legislator aims to speed up the administrative process.

 In addition, approved detailed development plans will be published on the internet page of the body which approved them within three days from date of approval.  

• New procedure for approval of concept investment designs

Preliminary assessments are now required for approval of concept investment designs. 

• Extension of the validity period for construction permits

The validity term for construction permits now starts to run from the commencement of the construction process, a change that favours permit holders. However, permit holders are now only permitted to extend the term for commencing construction and the construction permit validity term, once, within three months after the end of the initial validity term.  

The approved investment design shall lose its effect if the term of the construction permit is not extended or the extended term has lapsed.  

• One instance court proceedings

First instance court decisions shall now be final, if they regard: the approval or rejection of a construction permit or a complex investment initiative project for an object of national or municipal importance; or a petition against an administrative act for the approval, rejection or amendment of a detailed development plan for an object of national or municipal importance. 

• Sanctions for illegal placement of portable facilities

The amended SDA sanctions individuals and establishments who have allowed illegal placement of portable facilities on their property with fines ranging from BGN 1,000 to BGN 10,000 (app. EUR 500 to EUR 5,000).