What you should know about town planning in Spain | Part 2

The Spanish Land Law of the 20th of June of 2008 (Ley del Suelo 2/2008) classifies all the Spanish territory in two different categories according to the intended use and they are: rural land or urbanized land (Suelo Rural and “Suelo Urbanizado").

In previous Land Laws, rural land, was known as “rustic land” (suelo rústico) and many people still use that old term, but to all purposes it means the same, land without planning permission.

Rural land (Suelo rural or suelo rústico)

Land classified as rural are:

Any undeveloped land which may be transformed by planning into urbanized land. From this class are excluded any land protected by public domain or that it has an inherent cultural heritage, which must be subject to protection under the approved regional town planning regulations because of their high ecological, agricultural, forestry and landscape values as well as those which may happen to be hazards zones, including those areas capable to be flooded or liable to suffer any serious natural catastrophe such as river banks etc.

The rural land will be used in accordance with its nature, i.e. for livestock, forestry, hunting, etc. Any division into plots it’s prohibited.

Exceptionally, specific buildings are allowed if it is proven that its use will be of public interest by being a contribution to social interests and/or in aid of rural development or because they have to be deployed in the middle of a rural zone. The law takes into account for instance services such as a camping site which because of its nature has to exist in a rural area or a skiing resort which it is proven to be of public interest and because of its character has to be on the top of a mountain etc. The only residential buildings allowed in this category of land are those required by the owner to live to procure proper agricultural farming. Normally the LA determine the extension of land required to allow a house to be built in and depends on the region and whether the land has irrigation in which case tend to be around 10.000m2 and when the land hasn’t,  the extension required goes up to 25.000m2.

Proceedings to be followed to obtain planning permission.

Any new development, which require planning permission together with the associated infrastructure and public facilities, must undergo the process of obtaining all the different planning approvals and it process conclude when all the infrastructures are built according to the urbanization project (a project which must specify all roads, services such as street lighting, drinkable water services, sewerage and now days telecommunication facilities) and is handed over to Local Authorities (LA) together with all public areas within the development. I must point out here that the (LA) have to accept them. I have mentioned this last part in previous articles because of it’s implication, in the sense that if the (LA) do not accept the infrastructures built by the developer for the reason normally because is not up to the require standard, the planning process is not considered finished and any one buying a property in that development may assume part of the developer’s responsibility.

Duties of the developer with the LA.

The developer has to hand over to the LA free of charge the land reserved for roads, open spaces, green areas and other public facilities included in planning project.

To provide to the competent authority free of charge, a percentage of buildable plots within the developed area. In general terms, the percentage referred to above may not be less than 5 per 100 not more than 15 per 100. In most regional Land Laws this percentage has been established into 10 per cent.

It is imperative to obtain an environmental assessment which is done by presenting to the LA an environmental project. This project is really to prove that the development has sufficient environmental sustainability and shall include a map of natural hazards within the land in question.

In the consultation phase, the developer should achieve at least the following reports:

From the Hydrological Administration showing the existence of sufficient water resources required to meet new demands and confirmation that the project does not invade any public water domains.

A positive report must be obtained from the Maritime Public Administration if appropriate, showing the distances maintained from the cost line by the proposed development.

Another report from the authorities leading with roads about the condition and the impact such development will have on the capacity that such infrastructure will have to absorb the proposed development.

Within this law there are specific methods to value the land rural or urbanized, normally these methods are used when a development have more than one owner involved. Each additional owner involved in the resort normally implies that the complexity of the project is increased exponentially as normally they don’t agree on the valuation of their own land; I have been involved in projects with more than fifty different land owners.

When the project involves the construction of golf courses or sewerage treatment plants or large infrastructures projects permission must also be obtained for an environmental impact project which normally takes about two years to obtain full approval everything going well.

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