Closing construction loopholes

Closing construction loopholes

The Environment Ministry on Thursday announced that within two years it will have abolished all exceptions to the rules on structures outside of town planning, which will only be allowed on plots in excess of 4,000 square meters.

In the same context the issue of new construction permits for tourism facilities in areas outside of town planning on Mykonos and Santorini will be suspended until the town planning for the entire island in each case has been completed. The aim of that move is to complete planning on those “saturated islands,” as Minister Kostis Hatzidakis stated.

Construction outside of town planning has a history of almost a century in Greece, dating back to 1923. Since then legislators have steadily expanded it with more and more loopholes, resulting in the uncontrolled spread of buildings in the countryside.

The Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, has repeatedly made it clear in its decisions that areas outside of town planning are not meant for construction and that should only be allowed by exception. The ministry has included such a provision in the multi-bill on town planning that it has just put up for public consultation. It proposes the abolition within the next two years of all loopholes, which under certain conditions allow for construction within plots as small as 2,000 sq.m., 1,200 sq.m. or even 750 sq.m.

The minimum plot size where construction will be allowed will be 4,000 sq.m., while, especially for tourism installations, the minimum plot allowed will range from 4,000 to 8,000 sq.m. This rule will not apply to a series of buildings such as “upgraded hotels” (a new category that also includes holiday homes), logistics facilities and healthcare installations, among others.

There is, however, a contradiction in the bill: Although its general aim is to limit construction in areas outside of town planning, the ministry has chosen to encourage organized developments – i.e. for tourism, housing and business – where the building coefficient is increased from 0.15 to 0.20.

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