Construction permits increase 238%
West Crete Journal, February 2007

In a bid to halt illegal building (and of course raise money for the government), construction permits have been increased from €44 to €105 per square metre, as of 20 February 2007.

Although startling in arithmetic terms, it means that the cost of an average 100 square metre house will increase by around €6,100 - thankfully minimal compared to the average build cost of €120,000: about 5% more.

The government will allocate 5% of the permit fees to fund council inspection teams, which will inspect each building at three stages, with the powers to stop construction if it does not comply with the permit. Another percentage (unknown) is earmarked for the creation of a GPS-based Land Registry.

In addition, to stop the current practise of converting "covered areas" such as tiled pergolas, covered verandahs, basements, etc., into habitable rooms after connection of electricity, these will be counted towards the maximum allowed building area (usually 200 or 400 square metres).

In a move designed to speed up the planning process, construction permits will have to be issued within 40 days of application, otherwise the applicant can take the council to an appeal tribunal.

Our comments: (a) this could be the best thing that's ever happened to Greek property planning law; (b) this is open to central government / large developer abuse.

So in the next few months, let us assess whether:

- the extra construction permit funds raised by central government find their way to local councils;

- those councils allocate extra staff to form inspection teams, and can meet the 40-day turn-round period;

- speedy and efficient tribunals are created to hear planning appeals within a reasonable time;

- council inspectors are impartial when dealing with large developers.

Only time will tell.