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Building plans to be put on fast track procedure

As part of these reforms, the ministry also announced the suspension of new building permits for tourist accommodation located outside of town areas in Mykonos and Santorini. This suspension will apply until urban plans are approved, in a process expected to take some 18 months.

Greece's Environment and Energy Ministry put up a draft bill for public consultation yesterday that includes fast tracking building plans throughout the country, in a move welcomed by industry officials who see the change as being able to spur new business activity.

As part of these reforms, the ministry also announced the suspension of new building permits for tourist accommodation located outside of town areas in Mykonos and Santorini.

This suspension will apply until urban plans are approved, in a process expected to take some 18 months.

"The goal is to pull the brake on the building activity of these saturated areas, until clear rules are introduced. These rules will be included in special urban plans for the two islands, which will be assigned in the near future by the ministry", Environment and Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said.

Other important interventions of the bill, concern the restriction of off-plan construction. Specifically, the size of buildings will be reduced by 10 percent on average, while in industrial projects, this reduction reaches 33 percent. It is also stipulates that for each permit in an off-plan area, 5 percent of the cost of the permit will be paid to the Green Fund and go towards handling problems generated by illegal off plan building activity.

The reduction of off-plan construction is being combined with the significant strengthening of organized spatial planning. Both in business parks for industry and organized areas related to other activities (logistics, tourism, etc.) the building rate increases significantly. This is a practice that is applied all over the world and creates significant synergies and added value for the economy, but also environmental benefits.

A few weeks ago, the responsible Deputy Environment and Energy Minister, Dimitris Oikonomou, told an online conference, that "studies will soon begin in 200 municipal units, out of a total of 1,135. By the end of 2023, the goal is to have General Urban Plans for 45 percent of the country, reaching 100 percent by the end of 2030."

Already, the words of Economous have begun to be put into practice as a few days ago expressions of interest were submitted for the ministry's Local Urban Plan (UPS)  program with the relevant invitation having been sent on June 17th. In this context, 208 municipalities participated, out of a total of 330, requesting the UPS program be held in 627 municipal units out of a total of 1,044 in the country. 

Up to 15 years for a plan

Today, a General Urban Plan (GUP) takes 12-15 years to be approved, ie it is already obsolete, when it comes to being implemented. Thus, after 45 years of efforts, today we have GUP for only 20 percent of Greece, said Oikonomou. 

To solve this problem, all relevant procedures will be simplified and elements such as adaptation to climate change will be added. The goal is to be able to develop and approve a GIS within 2.5 years, instead of up to 15 years today.

To do this, "we will outsource the supervision procedures. The main reason for the delays is the inability of public bodies to do what is required by the respective monitoring committee. A key step is therefore the acceleration of the planning and at the same time the beginning of a generalized launching of the GUP, " he adds.

Alongside UPS program, the rapid urban planning of certain areas through the Special Urban Plans (EPS) is progressing. EPSs have exactly the same regulatory content as UPS. EPS are currently being promoted in municipalities with important issues, such as the municipalities of Thira and Mykonos, which are under significant pressure due to tourist flows.

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