EDITION: February - April 2018

The new Urban Planning Law

By Armin Gutschick y Anja Sämann-Gutschick
On December 29 of last year, the new Urban Planning Law of the Balearic Islands (LUIB) was published in the BOIB, the Official Gazette of the Balearic Islands. The new law entered into force on January 1, 2018. Here we will explain the most important changes made to this legislation that will replace the Law on Planning and Land Use (LOUS) approved by the previous government.

The new regulations will put an end to the amnesty for illegal builds on rural land that was set up two years ago by the present government via a temporary rule. Under the new law, developers may incur very severe penalties should they commit a planning infringement. In extreme cases, fines could reach up to 300 percent of the value of the illegal construction. Even if the construction took place on building land, sanctions could be issued for up to 100 percent of the value of the project.

Given that in the past many owners choose to ignore demolition orders for long periods of time, from 2018 sanctions will also be issued for delays in the fulfilment of these mandates. The LUIB also proposes to hand out monthly fines of 10 percent of the value of the project for considerable delays to the demolition. If, for example, the construction has a value of €50,000, the authorities can impose a fine of €5,000 for every month of delay. The new legislation grants the municipal planning authorities and the island council a term of 15 years to order the demolition of future illegal constructions.

Furthermore, government officials and the relevant authorities may be held accountable if they allow demolition orders to elapse or if they do not apply the correct fines – which will also be based on the value of the construction.

Nevertheless, the most important change introduced by the LUIB refers to the statute of limitations for building violations on rural land (it does not affect land for development). As of 2018, urban planning violations on rural land will no longer have an eight-year term, as they have done until now, but instead, the authorities will be able to order the demolition of illegal buildings at any time even if the 8 years have passed. Therefore, a sword of Damocles will be hanging over any illegal work started on rural land from January 1, 2018. The authorities will be able to use respective aerial photographs in chronological order as proof.

As we have already mentioned, prior to the new law taking effect, planning violations on rural soil ceased to have legal effect eight years after the completion of the work, as long as the authorities had not acted before by presenting the owner with a fine or a demolition order. The only planning violations without a statute of limitation were the one committed in protected areas like, for example, Natural Areas of Special Interest (ANEI). However, from now on, violations carried out on rural land won’t carry a statute of limitation either.

If the owner is able to obtain a certificate with the date of construction completion from an architect attesting that the illegal building is more than 8 years old, then it can still be added to the Land Registry. However, a record will be made of the fact that it is an unregulated building, constructed without a license. To summarise, any construction work carried out on rural land since the beginning of the year without building permission represents a basic building violation. The authorities can launch an investigation on the matter at any time. If during the course of the investigation it is demonstrated that it will not be possible to make the construction legal, it will never be able to be legalised and it will have to be demolished.