Construction of apartments – illustrative photo.
Prague – Builders could get a building permit more easily and quickly. This is enabled by a procedure where the building authority itself bypasses the other authorities concerned and obtains their opinion in a so-called coordinated binding opinion. This opinion will now also include the so-called unified environmental opinion (JES) according to a completely new law. There should only be one stamp for the builder at the end. The building authority could also initiate negotiations with the concerned authorities and the builder if necessary. These changes are foreseen in the amendments proposed by the Parliamentary Committee for Public Administration to the government's amendment to the Construction Act, which above all cancels the creation of the Supreme Construction Office. The amendment was discussed in the second reading by the House of Representatives today.
In the same way, today the deputies discussed and passed the draft of the new law on JES, which is related to the amendment to the construction law, to the third reading. This change in construction law could also expand public participation in some points of the construction procedure.
Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and former Minister for Regional Development Klára Dostálová (ANO) and Chairman of the House Subcommittee for Housing Policy and Construction Jiří Havránek (ODS) told ČTK that the committee's amendment proposal was prepared by the opposition together with the coalition and the committee then smoothly approved it. The Minister for Regional Development Ivan Bartoš (Pirates) also told MPs today that the proposal was presented across the political spectrum and is supposed to speed up the construction process. It means that the construction law would not have to be at risk in every election period after a change in political representation, Dostálova thinks.
“The builder can immediately learn that there is such a problem with the protection of public interests that it is impermissible,” Dostálova described one of the proposed changes to ČTK. “What does this mean for the builder: one submission and one stamp at the end,” Havránek told ČTK. However, Dostálová pointed out that despite the agreement on the committee's amendment proposal and the inclusion of authorities for permitting processes, the irreplaceability of officials from individual offices will remain. According to her, changing the law will not solve the so-called systemic bias of officials. There will also be no enforceable deadlines.
According to the former government of Andrej Babiš (ANO), it was the enforceability of the deadline in the new construction law that was supposed to speed up the construction process. However, the then opposition parties, which formed the current government coalition after the 2021 elections, did not like the new construction law. They mainly protested against the fact that construction authorities should be completely transferred to the state. The Supreme Building Authority and regional building authorities subordinate to it were to be established. The current government coalition first pushed for a one-year postponement of the establishment of the Supreme Building Authority and now came up with an amendment that completely cancels it and leaves building authorities under municipalities.
The government's amendment to the original law retained the Specialized and Appeals Building Office. This office is primarily in charge of strategic constructions, such as highways or power plants. This office is to be renamed the Transport and Energy Building Office, and will be subordinate to the Ministry of Transport.
The House of Representatives is discussing the amendment to the Building Act at the same time as the draft law on JES and the related amending act. The Public Administration Committee's amendment to the Amendment Act could once again allow greater public involvement in the construction process in the amendment to the Nature and Landscape Protection Act. “This once again gives the public the opportunity to participate in the procedures for building permits, which relate to the felling of trees or exemptions from prohibitions for memorial trees and especially protected species of animals,” Jana Krutáková, chairperson of the environment committee (STAN), said in a press release. 150 representatives of associations appealed to the MPs with a call to restore public participation in construction proceedings.
The parliamentary committees recommended that the new law on JES should come into effect only from January next year instead of July 1 this year. In the amendment to the Building Act, the economic committee recommended that charging stations or gas storage tanks be included among public infrastructure and facilities serving public needs. It also proposes to make it easier to build underground optical public networks. The Committee for Public Administration proposed an easier construction of facilities for forest kindergartens. He also proposes that building authorities can order the removal of a structure that is in conflict with the spatial planning documentation. To the amendment of the Building Act alone, the MPs proposed two dozen amendments today.
According to the Platform for a Healthy Building Act, which represents, for example, the Association of Entrepreneurs in the Construction Industry, the Czech Chamber of Architects and the Association of Developers, the proposal for a change for the better against the original version of the amendment, if political promises are kept. However, according to the platform, a more consistent and effective solution could have been created in the area of simplifying and speeding up the permitting process.