A new legislation for building permits, called Simplex, came into effect beginning of 2024. The law brings about several changes in housing, ranging from bureaucratic simplification to land reclassification and the appearance of houses themselves.

The majority of the 26 measures that change the rules of building permits and land reclassification include a new kind of prior communication. According to the new law, councils will now have between 120 and 200 working days to decide on permit applications. The time limit varies depending on the gross construction area, with 120 working days being granted for properties up to 300 m2, 150 days for properties between 300 and 2,200 m2, and 200 days for properties with a gross construction area of more than 2,200 m2.

The deadline is calculated from the moment the application is submitted to the city council. If the deadline is not met, the project can go ahead without the city’s opinion. Failure to comply with legal deadlines implies tacit approval of the decision. This means that if the decisions are not adopted in due time, the private individual can carry out the desired project. There will be a single notification to the applicant, and the Prior Information Request (PIP) will last for two years, exempting the applicant from prior control as a general rule. The building permit has been eliminated and replaced with a receipt for the fees due.

To prevent different municipal practices, town halls are not allowed to request additional documents beyond those required by law and a specific ordinance designed to identify these documents. Some of the supporting documents that cannot be requested include copies of records already in the council’s possession, the land registry, permanent certificates that have expired but were valid when the application was submitted, the digitized workbook, and declarations of professional competency of project technicians issued by any entity, including professional associations, among others.

The Simplex creates an Electronic Platform for Urban Planning Procedures, which will be mandatory for municipalities from January 5th, 2026. Through this platform, it will be possible to submit requests online, check the status of processes and deadlines, receive electronic notifications, obtain certificates of exemption from urban planning procedures, or submit requests in Building Information Modeling (BIM) format with automated verification of compliance with applicable plans.

Local authorities can reclassify rustic land as urban land if the purpose is to build public or affordable housing. This can also apply to buildings that used to serve commerce and services. The land will be exclusively public, and it must be located beside urban land. However, councils can refuse to reclassify rustic land if there would be noise from, for example, parking lots or green spaces.

The Simplex also simplifies the process of reclassifying rustic land into urban land for factories, warehouses, or logistics centres. Please note that land located in the national ecological reserve or national agricultural reserve is excluded from these rules.

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