On 4 November 2016, the Council of Ministers (the "Council") entered into the Bulgarian Parliament for discussion a draft bill amending the Spatial Development Act (the "Bill"). The proposed changes seek to address challenges that hinder investments (as described in an action plan adopted by the Council earlier this year) by easing the administrative burden and simplifying the administrative procedures, mainly with regard to the construction process.

The first key amendment introduces set time periods for (i) the municipal bodies’ announcement of projects related to spatial development; (ii) the evaluation of such projects by the chief architect; (iii) the duration and amendment of permits for establishment of spatial development and their amendments thereof; and (iv) the approval of changes in investment projects. It is hoped that these amendments will reduce opportunities for corrupt practices and prevent land plots from remaining with an unclear legal status for an indefinite period of time.

The second major change relates to the categorisation of construction projects. Under the existing legislation, there are six categories comprised of the following main types of construction:

  • First rank construction: highways, speed roads and first and second ranking roads from the national road network; railways; ports and airports; metro stations; oil, gas, electricity and heat-supply technical infrastructure; high risk construction.

  • Second rank construction: third ranking roads from the national road network; waste disposal facilities; buildings accommodating more than 1000 visitors; production facilities with a capacity for 200 to 500 working places and their belonging infrastructure.

  • Third rank construction: municipality roads; buildings with a built up area of more than 5000 sq.m. or accommodating 200 to 1000 visitors; production facilities with a capacity for 100 to 200 working places and their belonging infrastructure.

  • Fourth rank construction: private roads; residential and mixed-use buildings of a medium-rise development with a built up area of 1000 to 5000 sq.m. or accommodating 100 and 200 visitors; production facilities with a capacity for 50 to 100 working places and their belonging infrastructure; parks, gardens and green areas up to 1 ha.

  • Fifth rank construction: residential and mixed-use buildings of a low-rise development; villas; public service buildings and facilities with a built up area of less than 1,000 sq.m. or accommodating fewer than 100 visitors; reconstruction of old buildings.

  • Sixth rank construction: temporary buildings for construction projects; agricultural buildings; fences.

The legislator sees this categorisation as an unnecessary complication for assignors and design engineers alike. The Bill combines the first three categories into one category with identical conditions related to the evaluation of conformity of construction, construction supervision, commissioning of the construction and administrative control. This will support and ease the correct application of the Spatial Development Act by all parties involved. The other categories will remain in place.

In addition, the Bill introduces minor changes related to:

  • Establishment of public registers, which will hold approved spatial development plans;
  • Specification of the restructuring of residential complexes;
  • The accession to the sewage system by all consumers;
  • Compliance with mandatory energy efficiency of buildings;
  • Reduced periods for issuing construction permits for national projects, projects with national importance and first class municipality projects; and
  • Management of construction waste and the health and safety plan for construction.