Rejected Presidential Veto on Amendments to the Territorial Planning Act

On 4 February 2021, the President of the Republic of Bulgaria vetoed some new amendments to the Territorial Planning Act (TPA) which were adopted on 27 January 2021 and referred them back to the National Assembly for further deliberations. Two weeks later, on 17 February 2021, the Parliament rejected the veto and re-adopted the provisions that had been referred back. The TPA amendments were promulgated in The State Gazette, No. 16/2021.

The amended TPA finally provided for legal remedies against general zoning plans in the wake of the judgment of the Constitutional Court which ruled that their unappealability was unconstitutional. The reasons of the President’s veto recognized that the right to appeal was restricted unjustifiably in terms of both the time limits (14 days as from the date of promulgation in The State Gazette) and the scope of persons entitled to appeal (only real estate owners directly affected by the provisions of the relevant plan). The Amendments to the Territorial Planning Act in this regard were adopted without any further changes.

Another provision that was referred back to the National Assembly is the new wording of Article 148(16), stating that a permit to build on a zoned land property will be issued only if the application is accompanied by a detailed zoning plan, including a plan on the connection of the property to the street or road network and the access to the property. The lawmaker’s idea is to ensure that construction works will begin only after appropriate street zoning is in place. However, the implementation of zoning measures is within the remit of municipalities which are the only authorities empowered to alienate properties for the purposes of street zoning. That provision was adopted in its original wording without any clear mechanism to overcome the inaction of public authorities in a timely manner.

The new sentence inserted at the end of paragraph 5 of Article 154 (“The supplementing order shall not renew the time limits for the commencement or completion of construction works”). The reasons set out in the presidential decree indicate that this wording of the ban gives grounds to believe that, prior to its entry into force, orders to supplement existing permits to build produced the legal effect of extended validity of the permits and that was not envisaged in the existing legislation. Nevertheless, we believe that it was appropriate to keep these Amendments to the Territorial Planning Act as well due to inconsistent interpretations over the recent years.

More detailed information on the TPA amendments will follow.