New Construction Act
In the wake of heavy criticism in recent years, Czech construction law, primarily comprising Construction Act No. 183/2006 Coll., as amended (the “Construction Act”), will (hopefully) have a completely new look from 2023. The Czech Parliament is currently reviewing and discussing a newly drafted Construction Act, which will entirely overhaul the procedure for obtaining zoning and building permits in the Czech Republic and eliminate the main shortcomings of the legislation currently in force, such as (i) the lack of binding deadlines for state authorities granting zoning and construction decisions, (ii) the obligation for builders to obtain binding opinions (in Czech: závazná stanoviska) from dozens of respective authorities (in the area of hygiene, fire safety or environmental protection) and (iii) an extremely fragmented system of authorities with responsibility for construction and land use.
Amendment of the Construction Act from 1 January 2021
While awaiting the acceptance of the completely new Construction Act, the Czech parliament adopted amendments to the current Construction Act, which will substantially change the process of receiving binding opinions from the respective authorities in question with effect from 1 January of this year.
The amendment imposes an obligation on the respective authorities to issue a binding opinion without undue delay, but no later than 30 days after being requested to do so, with the possibility of a 30-day extension only if an on-site inspection is required or in particularly complex cases. If the respective authority fails to comply with the given deadlines, it is automatically assumed that the respective authority issued a favourable and unconditional binding opinion. The only exceptions to this new rule are the EIA opinions and opinions issued by the respective authorities responsible for the protection of nature and landscapes in significant cases. As a result of this newly introduced procedure, if the respective authority fails to issue its binding opinion (either negative or positive) within the given deadlines, the respective authority is deemed to issue a positive opinion and the applicant can proceed with the process of receiving a building permit.
Generally, the newly granted possibility of having a binding opinion reviewed in individual proceedings is to be also welcomed as a step forward in bringing construction law up to date. Until 1 January 2021, it was only possible to have a binding opinion reviewed by appealing against a building permit, which was issued (or denied) based on the binding opinion of the respective authority. Since 1 January 2021, it has been possible to review binding opinions within their own review procedure, which can be initiated within 1 year of the building permit taking legal effect, which was determined by the binding opinion.
Another key change is also the introduction of a new tool for zoning – a zoning development plan valid for the entire territory of the Czech Republic. It is binding for the zoning plans and regulatory plans issued by Czech municipalities and for the decision-making of regional and other authorities in the territory.
Time will tell whether the establishment of strict deadlines for issuing binding opinions and the assumption of the issuance of a consenting binding opinion by the respective authorities in the case of non-compliance with such deadlines will actually lead to a simplification and acceleration of building proceedings.